State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, July 07, 2002

Fishermen sue over Kasilof sockeye escapement

KENAI - The Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association and the United Cook Inlet Drift Association have filed suit against the state, seeking changes to the Kasilof River management plan adopted in February.

The commercial fishing groups want the state to return to a Kasilof River escapement of 150,000 to 250,000 sockeye salmon. They also want the department to disregard limits placed on its emergency order authority by the Board of Fisheries.

A hearing on the group's request for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for Monday in front of Superior Judge Harold M. Brown.

According to the suit, not enough public comment went into the board's sockeye escapement decision, said Paul Shadura, president of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association, an organization representing set net fishermen. The board raised sockeye escapement to 300,000.

The suit also seeks to return to state biologists certain powers that the Board of Fisheries eliminated in February, when it ordered several closure dates on commercial fishing.

The board should not be responsible for managing the fishery, only setting the guidelines, according to the lawsuit.

Department of Fish and Game officials declined to comment on the case.

Soldotna company awarded contract for Challenger Center

KENAI - The addition to the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska will be built by a Soldotna company.

G&S Construction was awarded the $2.9 million contract for student dormitories, classrooms, a workshop, a kitchen and a distance learning studio.

The addition is expected to be completed by March. It will add 9,714 square feet to the 12,072-square foot building.

The Kenai facility is one of 43 such centers around the country. It uses simulated space missions and hands-on learning to teach science and help students develop teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Knowles vetoes coastal trail planning bill

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed a bill Friday that would have given the Legislature the final word on extending an Anchorage coastal trail through a wildlife refuge.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail runs about 11 miles from Second Avenue in downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park. The Municipality of Anchorage and the state are considering an extension through the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge to Potter Marsh.

In vetoing the bill, Knowles called the legislation an unwarranted intrusion in the ongoing planning process of the trail. Knowles vetoed a similar bill in 1999.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Joe Green, an Anchorage Republican, who could not be reached for comment Friday. The bill would have required legislative approval for any right of way through the refuge.

Critics and some homeowners who live along the bluff above the refuge say a trail through the refuge would destroy the saltwater marsh and disrupt valuable bird and animal habitat.

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