Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2004

Boats illegally entered at Auke Bay marina

AUKE BAY - Police responding to a possible burglary Sunday morning at an Auke Bay marina discovered that 11 boats had been illegally entered.

Property was stolen from some of the boats. Police estimated the amount of total damage and stolen merchandise to be between $3,000 and $5,000.

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about these break-ins is encouraged to contact the Juneau Police Department at 586-0600.

Big quake remembered with new devices

ANCHORAGE - Earthquake experts like to say it's not a question of whether another big quake will hit Anchorage, but when.

The good news is that another tremor of the kind that shook Southcentral Alaska 40 years ago is not likely to hit the area in the lifetime of anyone now living.

The Good Friday earthquake of 1964 killed 131 people from Alaska to California, generated immense tsunami waves, caused about $2 billion in damage in today's money and was felt as far away as Mississippi.

The estimate that it will not be repeated soon is based, in part, on in-depth studies of the history of the faults that failed on March 27, 1964, said geologist Peter Haeussler of the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage.

The bad news is that Anchorage sits on such a seismically active region of the Earth's crust that other large quakes here, though arising out of failures of different geological faults, are not just likely but almost certain, Haeussler said.

Those temblors may not reach the intensity of the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday quake, which lasted four minutes and was the second strongest ever measured. But even a 7.0 quake, if close enough to the city, can do a lot of damage, Haeussler said.

Troopers: Collisions with moose on the rise

ANCHORAGE - Heavy snowfall and a thriving urban moose population have led to an alarmingly high rate of vehicle collisions with the ungulates this winter, Alaska State Troopers said.

Kenai, Anchorage and Matanuska Susitna Borough have all reported high numbers of moose-vehicle collisions.

Since October, an average of two moose per day have been struck on Mat-Su roads, troopers said. So far this winter, a near record 313 moose have been killed in collisions there, troopers said.

Heavy snowfall during the 1989-90 winter led to 316 moose collision along with another 450 ungulates struck by trains.

In comparison, trains have killed only about 30 moose in Mat-Su this year, according to an Alaska Railroad spokesman.

Biologists usually blame the high number of collisions with heavy snowfall which pushes moose to roadways in search of easier paths than snow-covered trails.

But the Matanuska Valley's growing human population also may be a factor, state biologist Gino Del Frate said. The population has grown by 20,000 people in the past 15 years and that has meant more motorists commuting to jobs in Anchorage.

Sen. Murkowski picks up gun endorsement

FAIRBANKS - Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski picked up an endorsement from the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby which two years ago backed her GOP opponent in a state legislative race.

"Lisa, since she got to Congress, has a 100 percent NRA voting record," said NRA spokesman Eddie Grasser. "If we have an incumbent that's been voting with us, we endorse them generally speaking."

This is the first NRA endorsement for Murkowski, a Republican who was appointed by her father in 2002 to fill his unexpired term.

In 2002, the NRA backed Republican Nancy Dahlstrom in an unsuccessful GOP primary fight against Murkowski for a state House seat. Dahlstrom, of Eagle River, was later appointed by Gov. Frank Murkowski to replace his daughter in the Alaska Legislature.

Murkowski characterized the NRA endorsement as "huge." The group has 40,000 members in Alaska, according to Grasser.

State changes in coastal law hit roadblock

ANCHORAGE - A federal decision could slow the Murkowski administration's efforts to overhaul a controversial program to spark development in coastal areas.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has ruled that proposed changes to the Alaska Coastal Zone Management Program are comprehensive. The determination could spark a lengthy environmental impact review.

Critics have argued changes proposed by Gov. Frank Murkowski would undercut the authority of local communities to stop undesirable development.

Marv Smith, chairman of the opposition group Alaska Coastal District Association, applauded the federal decision.

Many coastal residents felt the new regulations aimed at speeding up some economic development projects were being steamrolled through by the governor, Smith said.

"They want to make sure that development happens in Alaska and that nobody has a chance to comment," Smith said.



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