Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hiker rescued from Mount McGinnis

JUNEAU - Alaska State Troopers, TEMSCO helicopters and SEADOGS searchers rescued a cold and wet man from Mount McGinnis late Monday afternoon.

The man, identified by troopers as Roger Sharp, 25, of Juneau, told troopers he hiked up the West Glacier Trail at 9 a.m. After leaving the trail and going down a steep incline, he was unable to get back to the trail.

A helicopter located him just off the Mendenhall Glacier.

Bruce Bowler of SEADOGS - Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Searches - reported that Sharp was stuck in heavy rain. He was recovered at about 5:30 p.m.

Eielson backers to send rep to hearing

FAIRBANKS - The Save Eielson Task Force plans to send representatives to a Base Realignment and Closure Committee hearing in New Mexico scheduled for Friday.

The goal is to gauge support for the Pentagon's plan to transfer 18 F-16 fighter jets from Eielson Air Force Base to Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base. The hearing will cover military installations in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

"We're interested to know if that's what Nevada residents want," said Jim Dodson, chair of the Save Eielson Task Force.

Dodson said the task force representatives likely would come from the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm Lundquist, Nethercutt and Griles, which was hired to help create a defense of Eielson shortly after the Defense Department released its list May 13.

The Defense Department also has recommended transferring nearly 3,000 airmen and their dependents from Eielson to bases in the Lower 48.

At a regional BRAC hearing in Fairbanks last week, Eielson supporters said the base was in compliance with national air-quality regulations while Nellis, located eight miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas, is not.

Compliance with federal environmental laws is one of the eight criteria the commission must follow when reviewing the Defense Department's recommendations.

Nellis Air Force Base would gain 1,412 military and civilian personnel under the Pentagon's plan. Clark County, which includes both Las Vegas and Nellis, is growing at nearly 8 percent a year and has struggled to meet federal air-quality standards because of vehicle emissions.

Bears showing up on the Russian River

KENAI - The Russian River fishery has barely been open a week and already the bruins are showing up.

Just over a week ago, Russian River campground personnel reported a brown bear that was keeping close tabs on a moose carcass in the woods near the power lines that cross the Kenai River. Another brownie walked through the campground itself a couple days later in a twilight trek that left tourists trembling.

And just a few days ago, a black bear sow and cub emerged from the woods near the Cottonwood Hole and proceeded to forage through backpacks and lunch sacks that lined the shore behind the scrambling anglers who brought them.

"There's going to be encounters, but we want to make sure that the bears are getting the right education from the start," said Department of Fish and Game area manager Jeff Selinger.

Fish and Game has come up with a list of suggestions to help reduce the risk of bear encounters. No. 1 on the list is making sure bears don't connect any links between humans and food. One way not to invite trouble is to minimize food and food odors while fishing, Selinger said.

Tanana man faces manslaughter charges

FAIRBANKS - A Tanana man accused of shooting his friend at a camp on the Yukon River over the weekend is facing reduced charges.

Carl Erhart, 28, is charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 18-year-old Lawrence Kennedy. Erhart was originally arrested on second-degree murder charges Saturday.

According to charging documents, Kennedy, Erhart and another man, Christopher Grant, went to Erhart's father's cabin to cut brush on Friday. When they arrived, they allegedly each did a line of cocaine and drank alcohol. They set to work cutting brush and after they finished, went back inside the cabin and snorted more cocaine and continued drinking, according to the documents.

The three men were sitting around a table and talking about various subjects. Kennedy was holding a .457-caliber rifle, and Erhart told him that he shouldn't handle the rifle. Kennedy then gave the rifle to Erhart. Later, Erhart picked up the rifle and headed to the bedroom.

"Lawrence asked Carl what he would do if a bear or Bigfoot showed up," documents state. "At this point Carl turned around with the rifle in his hand in an overhand motion and said, 'This is what I would do,' and pointed the rifle toward the window. Carl said when the rifle barrel came down, the gun discharged."

Kennedy then stood up and went to the door of the cabin saying something to the effect of 'I think you shot me,' according to documents.

Erhart and Grant tried to attend to his wounds, carried him to the boat and began heading back to Tanana. Rough waters forced them to shore about two miles upriver of Tanana. Grant ran to Tanana for help while Erhart stayed with Kennedy and tried to keep him warm.

Kennedy appeared to have been shot in the chest and died, court documents said.

State officials worry about fragile dunes

KENAI - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants participants in the Kasilof River personal-use gillnet fishery to stay off the fragile dunes.

Fish and Game area management biologist Jeff Fox is adamant that all fishery participants steer clear of the dunes. They help hold the river mouth in place and prevent saltwater from flooding into surrounding lowlands, which are used as a rearing area for juvenile fish and a nesting area for several species of waterfowl and shorebirds, he said.

Without the dunes as a barrier, the intrusion of saltwater could change this habitat and impact wildlife.

"Dune damage is one of our biggest concerns. They can get damaged really fast," he said. "If people are courteous and use a little common sense, there shouldn't be too many problems."

Most dune damage comes from fishery participants who opt to drive their trucks, cars and ATVs over them, either to avoid the risk of getting stuck in the sand on the beach or just for a shorter route.

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