Anchorage man charged in murder of girlfriend: Joshua Almeda was indicted Tuesday on charges of first- and second-degree murder, and third-degree misconduct involving a weapon. Almeda, 23, is accused of shooting and killing his 20-year-old girlfriend, Breanna Moore on June 26. He faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in jail and a $500,000 fine, according to the Anchorage District Attorney's office. Almeda's sentence length will be based upon the seriousness of the crime and his criminal history, which includes multiple felony convictions, according to court records.
Alaska to receive nearly $400,00 in conservation funds: Alaska will get about $394,000 out of a $40.4 million distribution to the states from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to the Department of the Interior. The funds are earmarked for recreation and conservation projects. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in a press release (pdf) "emphasized that Land and Water Conservation Fund grants boost local economies and support jobs in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries. A recent analysis of the Land and Water Conservation Fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on the investment for communities." Alaska has limited need for land acquisition, given that most of the state is already public land. But the 49th state is woefully short on trails and other developments to support tourism, which now mainly focuses on buses on the state's few roads and cruise ships using the state's waterways. Jewell's press release lauded the value of infrastructure development, noting that "Gateway Park in Fort Worth (is) a prime example of how the Land and Water Conservation Fund can improve the quality of life for local residents. The State of Texas has leveraged funding through the program to make Gateway Park a prime destination for recreation, with equestrian, hiking and biking trails; soccer fields; a canoe and kayak launch; and a fishing pier. The projects are part of $179 million in state and local assistance grants made to Texas since 1964." Revenue for the Conservation Fund comes from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
The mystery of Yukon king salmon declines: What's happening to the Yukon's king salmon? That's a question that's bedeviled Alaska commercial and subsistence fisherman along with regulators in recent years. And while a recent High Country News report doesn't provide more answers, it does provide a thorough account of the situation and the potential causes -- from pollock fleet bycatch to global warming -- that have observers worried. Still, the proliferation of possibilities only serves to heighten the sense of helplessness the problem creates, as the piece points out: "Last year, a team of experts from universities and government agencies released a chinook research action plan, an 87-page document whose hypotheses only underscore the uncertainty about the cause of the collapse."
Lower 48 wolverines won't get receive Endangered Species Act protection: While wolverines remain a stable, if elusive, presence in Alaska, the boreal predators are rare in the Lower 48 states, where biologists estimate that only about 300 live, in an area centered around Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The iconic mustelids had been under consideration for protection under the Endangered Species Act in those areas, but a U.S. Fish and Wildlife official reversed that process, ordering agency biologists to withdraw a recommendation that wolverines receive protection, the Los Angeles Times reports, since not enough is known about how a changing climate will affect the animals. "For example, scientists have documented drownings of polar bears that lacked the endurance to swim from retreating ice packs to shore," the L.A. Times report noted. "For wolverines, however, detecting a response 'either now or in the future is unlikely due to the near impossibility of obtaining such information on this hard-to-study species,'" one agency official told the Times. While the biologists recommended listing the wolverine as threatened as a precaution due to the lack of information, the agency's regional director took the opposite stand, citing the same lack of information as reason to withdraw the recommendation.