ANWR measure passes state House
JUNEAU - The state House approved a resolution Wednesday urging Congress to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.
The Legislature passes such resolutions nearly every legislative session, but some legislators hope the chances for opening the coastal plain of the refuge improved with the election of President George W. Bush.
Juneau Democrat Rep. Beth Kerttula was the only lawmaker to vote against the measure. Kerttula said it's unclear whether drilling would hurt the Porcupine caribou herd - a subsistence food for indigenous people who live near ANWR. Some Alaska Natives have opposed drilling to protect caribou, and Kerttula said that's the main reason she voted against the resolution.
"They don't want it. They've protested it. They've tried to be heard on it," Kerttula said. "I felt that it was important that Congress understand that not 100 percent of Alaskans are for it."
The resolution was amended to include language urging that development be done in a way that protects the naturally occurring population levels of the caribou herd.
Intersection plan still under study
JUNEAU - A plan to reconfigure roads near the Douglas Bridge-Egan Drive intersection remains under consideration by state transportation officials.
One option receiving serious consideration under the plan would make Egan Drive a one-way, inbound-only highway for several blocks. Outbound traffic would be routed to Glacier Avenue between Gold Creek and 12th Street.
A recent meeting attracted about 40 people, including Glacier Avenue neighbors concerned about traffic and other impacts of the plan.
While one public comment period technically has closed, Chris Morrow of the state Department of Transportation said comments continue to be taken. Comments can be sent to Pat Carroll at DOT, 6860 Glacier Highway, Juneau, 99801-7999, faxed to 465-3506 or e-mailed to email@example.com, according to the DOT Web site. There also will be further opportunities for public input, Morrow said.
An in-depth look at the plan will be featured in Sunday's Juneau Empire. DOT's project description, including maps, is available on the Web through Hot Links at juneauempire.com.
Eaglecrest kicks off night skiing
JUNEAU - The recent snowfall will allow Eaglecrest Ski Area to begin offering night skiing Friday.
Night skiing is offered from 4 to 9 p.m. on the lower mountain. The Hooter chairlift and the Platter surface lift will operate.
Night skiing tickets are $14 for adults, $8 for children, and $7 for any age that uses the surface lift only.
Equipment rentals are available at half-day prices between the hours, and the ski school will offer lessons.
The city-owned ski area opened Feb. 1, the latest opening on record.
Senate opposes road-building ban
JUNEAU - The Alaska Senate approved a resolution Wednesday urging President George W. Bush to overturn the ban on logging and road-building in roadless areas of the Tongass and Chugach National Forests.
President Bill Clinton included the Alaska forests in the national roadless ban last year. Alaska officials, including Gov. Tony Knowles, condemned the federal government for violating the Tongass Land Management Plan - a comprehensive plan adopted after a decade of negotiations.
Sen. Robin Taylor, a Wrangell Republican, said the ban will devastate communities already hurt by logging cutbacks in the Tongass.
The measure passed 18-1, with only Johnny Ellis, an Anchorage Democrat, voting no.
The resolution sponsored by Rep. Peggy Wilson, a Wrangell Republican, has already passed the House. It won't do anything but express the Legislature's feelings, since the decision is up to the federal government.
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