Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, January 07, 2008

Women's Network to hold meeting

Sound off on the important issues at

JUNEAU - The monthly meeting of the Women's Network for Entrepreneurial Training will be held Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the third floor conference room in the Juneau Empire Building, 3100 Channel Drive.

The presentation, Make Successful 2008 New Year's Resolutions, will provide tips on writing and keeping resolutions for personal, professional and business goals. Attendees will have the opportunity to write or rewrite their own resolutions for 2008.

The free presentation is open to the public. Attendees are invited to bring a brown bag lunch, and they are encouraged to come a few minutes early and stay a few minutes afterwards for networking opportunities with other business professionals.

For more information, call the Juneau Small Business Development Center at 463-3789.

Court upholds permit for mine near Nome

ANCHORAGE - A federal appeals court panel has upheld a key federal permit allowing discharge into wetlands that was granted to a gold mine being built near Nome.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the position of a Nome-based group that said the permit issued to the Rock Creek Mine in 2006 violated two federal environmental laws.

Rock Creek's owner, British Columbia-based NovaGold Resources Inc., said it is pleased with the ruling and plans to begin producing gold in Nome by the end of March.

The ruling, written by Judge Ronald Gould, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "extensively and properly considered alternatives to the design" before issuing the wetland discharge permit, and that the permit doesn't violate the federal Clean Water Act or the National Environmental Policy Act.

"On balance, we conclude that the Rock Creek Mine Project has no significant detrimental effect on the environment in and near Nome," Gould wrote.

The three-judge appellate panel's ruling affirmed a federal district court order in June that dismissed the environmental lawsuit filed by Bering Strait Citizens for Responsible Resource Development and several Nome residents.

Vicki Clark with Trustees for Alaska, an Anchorage law firm pursuing the lawsuit for the Nome group, said plaintiffs are considering their options.

They have 45 days after this week's ruling becomes final to request a rehearing from a larger panel of appeals judges.

Sterling man killed in highway collision

STERLING - A Sterling man was killed when his car collided with a tractor trailer on the Sterling Highway.

Alaska State Troopers say 43-year-old David Chapman was killed in the crash. He died on the scene Friday evening.

Troopers say Chapman was driving an older model maroon Oldsmobile and was heading north on the highway. The accident occurred when Chapman tried to stop for a vehicle turning left.

Sixty-two year old Jack Brittain of Chugiak was driving an 18-wheeler south when Chapman's vehicle fishtailed into his lane.

The trailer hit the driver's side of Chapman's car.

The highway was closed for about five hours.

Hunters want cow moose hunts stopped

FAIRBANKS - A growing number of hunters want cow moose hunts south of Fairbanks stopped.

They say there are fewer moose on the Tanana Flats since the Alaska Department of Fish and Game began allowing antlerless moose hunts in game management Unit 20A.

Hunters have killed approximately 2,100 cow moose since the department switched the antlerless hunt from a limited drawing permit hunt to an unlimited registration permit hunt in 2003.

State game managers contend the cow harvests are needed to stunt the growth of the moose population on the Tanana Flats and in the Alaska Range foothills, which is showing signs of nutritional stress.

Hunters say the fewer number of moose on the flats is now very noticeable.

Groups await decision on polar bear listing

ANCHORAGE - As the deadline approaches for a federal government decision on adding polar bears to the list of threatened species, the author of the petition seeking protective status says the need is greater than ever because of global warming.

And Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree, Calif., said nothing short of curbing greenhouse gas emissions is likely to save them.

"We do not save polar bears without rapidly slashing greenhouse gas emissions," Siegel said. "We need rapid and decisive action."

A decision on declaring polar bears "threatened," which could trigger limits on development that adversely affects the animals, is due Wednesday, one year after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed finding in the Federal Register. Petition supporters say a decision could be delayed because of the extraordinary events in the Arctic last year and the amount of new information federal managers have had to digest.

The petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council more than two years ago claims the polar bear's primary habitat, sea ice, is threatened because of global warming. A record low for summer sea ice in the Arctic was set in 2005. That mark was shattered by 23 percent in 2007, when ice diminished to 1.65 million square miles, nearly 40 percent less ice than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000.

Polar bears spend most of their lives on sea ice. They use it to hunt their primary prey, ringed seals, the only ice seal that lives under the frozen ice cap. They hunt ribbon and bearded seals in broken ice.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on Dec. 27, 2006, proposed listing polar bears as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. He cited thinning sea ice as a major problem for the animals.

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