Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, April 06, 2007

Avalanche danger raised to high

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JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center warned Thursday of high snowslide danger overnight because of rain forecast at upper elevations.

Avalanches are less likely if the forecast for light to moderate rain holds, the center said.

"We are most concerned if the rain is heavier or steadier tonight than the weather forecast suggests," the nonprofit organization said on its Web site,

"The worst case would be a heavy rain falling abruptly on the dry snow at higher elevations."

The urban avalanche watch group, which monitors slide areas most likely to threaten downtown neighborhoods, raised its warning level because the forecast rain would be the first since January on dry snow in the upper "starting zones," where slides are most likely to begin.

Name of paratrooper killed in Iraq released

GREELEY, Colo. - Army officials have released the name of the Fort Richardson soldier who was killed by small arms fire in Iraq this week.

Shane Becker, 35, died Tuesday in Baghdad. Another paratrooper was seriously injured in the same incident and was being treated at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq.

Becker was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson.

Becker, whose hometown was listed by the military as Helena, Mont., grew up in Greeley, Colo., where his stepfather is a firefighter, the Greeley Tribune newspaper reported.

Alaska Air chief gets less than $1M in comp

SEATTLE - Alaska Air Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ayer received compensation valued at $954,367 last year, according to a regulatory filing Thursday.

Ayer, 52, received a $360,000 salary, $538,965 in incentive plan compensation, and other compensation including travel expenses valued at $55,402.

He also collected option awards valued by the company at $705,309 on the dates they were issued. Seattle-based Alaska Air Group is the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The options were granted under a plan approved in 2004.

The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives' salary, bonus, incentives, perks, and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals released by the companies.

In addition to his compensation package, Ayer exercised stock options worth $154,440 in 2006, though he continued to hold those shares, the company said in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

In January, Alaska Air Group said it lost $11.6 million, or 29 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $33 million, or $1.15 per share, during the prior-year quarter. Revenue grew 8 percent to $790.3 million, from $730.6 million last year.

Alaska Air Group shares rose 59 cents, or 1.55 percent, to close at $38.58 on Thursday before falling nearly 14 cents in after-hours trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company's annual meeting is scheduled for June 12 in Anchorage, Alaska. Shareholders are pushing several resolutions opposed by the board, including a proposal requiring the company to reimburse costs in contested director elections and another that splits the jobs of chairman and CEO.

Commercial fishermen pull up big, old rockfish

ANCHORAGE - A commercial fishing boat pulled up what could have been one of the oldest creatures in Alaska - a giant rockfish estimated to be about a century old.

The 44-inch, 60-pound female shortraker rockfish was caught last month south of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea by the catcher-processor Kodiak Enterprise, owned by Trident Seafoods.

The Seattle-based vessel was trawling for pollock at 2,100 feet. On one drag, the ship's big net pulled up an estimated 75 tons of pollock plus 10 bright-orange rockfish.

Crewmen alerted Michael Myers, factory manager of the Kodiak Enterprise. He has fished in the Bering Sea since 1988 but never saw a rockfish that big.

Myers ordered the big rockfish to be frozen whole. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle estimated the specimen was 90 to 115 years old.

Scientists said it was not the biggest on record, however. The book "Fishes of Alaska" says a 47-inch shortraker rockfish was recorded.

Leaders pledge to fight climate change

SALEM, Ore. - Lower Pacific Coast states and British Columbia will work together to fight the effects of global warming that threaten the region's shared climate and coasts, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said Thursday.

The two leaders met just days after the Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration for its inaction over climate change, vindicating states' efforts to combat greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that scientists say contribute to global warming.

California, Oregon and Washington state are spearheading efforts along the West Coast to reduce pollution through new car emissions standards, subsidies and mandates for renewable resources such as wind, solar and wave power and the aggressive development of a biofuels market.

"One of the real benefits of looking at the Pacific Coast and creating a collaboration among the states and the provinces is we create a market place of 50 million people," said Campbell. "I think the market will pay attention."

Campbell said British Columbia would like to join the five-state Western Regional Climate Change Initiative, launched earlier this year by Kulongoski and the governors of Washington, California, Arizona and New Mexico, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gases.

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