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Alaska Beat

AK Beat: Search called off for missing Eagle River pilot

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 23, 2013

Search for missing Eagle River pilot suspended: The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center has called off the search for missing pilot Alan Foster of Eagle River. Foster, 47, went missing on Sept. 9 after his Piper PA-32 lost contact with Anchorage's Merrill Field airport, before disappearing near the Malaspina Glacier about 320 miles southeast of Anchorage. Initially hindered by bad weather, the search efforts eventually included 197 people in 57 aircraft, spending an accumulated 279.1 flight hours looking for the pilot.

Legacy well strategy, check. Funding?: Beginning in 1942, the federal government drilled and then abandoned 142 exploratory oil wells in the national petroleum reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on Alaska's North Slope. In 1982, remediation and clean-up of the neglected wells, which were in varying states of disrepair, fell to the Bureau of Land Management. For years, the clean-up seemed to have been all but ignored. In recent years, however, Alaska politicians have made a priority of getting Uncle Sam to finally address those so-called "legacy wells," some of which pose a danger to people and the environment. The BLM announced Monday the final form of its strategic plan for cleaning up the mess. Although in the announcement BLM-Alaska State Director Bud Cribley thanked stakeholders for their input in finalizing the strategy, and thanked Alaska's Sens. Murkowski and Begich for their support in Washington,D.C., federal funding to execute the plan is still uncertain. A bill containing a provision to fund legacy well clean-up far beyond the level it has been in recent years is under consideration. Read more about the strategic plan.

Small quakes rattle Anchorage, Fairbanks: Two small earthquakes in Alaska's Southcentral and Interior regions gave a jolt to the state's two largest cities within hours of each other on Sunday and Monday. The first took place shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday about 37 miles west of Fairbanks, a magnitude-3.45 temblor that originated at a depth of about 10 miles. The second quake struck at 1:21 a.m. Monday about 37 miles west of Anchorage, and measured as a magnitude-3.75 at a depth of just 6 miles.

Warning again about 'flushable' wipes: In the midst of a larger story about the strain put on sewer systems by so-called "flushable" bathroom wipes, Alaskans were again reminded that the city of Sitka in Southeast has requested citizens refrain from using the pre-moistened towelettes intended for personal hygiene. Sitka officials had previously requested in 2009 that citizens not flush the "flushable" wipes -- despite how the products were being advertised -- due to the manpower required to remove the wipes entangled in sewer machinery when they didn't break down in the way consumers were led to believe.

Remote caribou hunters turn to Facebook: As a sign of just how pervasive social media has become in the world today, the International Porcupine Caribou Board has announced it is embracing Facebook to try to get its messages on hunting out to people in the most remote corners of the Arctic. "The board,'' according to a press release, "adopted an interim communications strategy that considers social media while recognizing that radio is still the way to get the message out to some communities.'' Most of those communities are in Canada's Northwest and Yukon territories north of the small town of Whitehorse. Whitehorse, population 24,000, is the largest community in the Canadian north. Only a handful of Alaska communities west of the Canada-U.S. border to the north hunt the Porcupine herd. None of them are connected to the Alaska road system. The Porcupine herd is the fifth largest in North America and ranges across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the eastern edge of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in Alaska. The herd of more than 160,000 caribou are hunted primarily for subsistence by Gwich'in Athabascans. The press release noted that "in the U.S., the herd's relative inaccessibility has so far limited hunting opportunities...."

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