State Briefs

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2003

Bill would create national heritage area

KENAI - Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill that would create a national heritage area in the northern Kenai Peninsula.

U.S. Senate Bill 1330 would establish the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, making the region eligible for federal assistance in a transportation corridor first used by indigenous Alaskans and later by non-Native pioneers and settlers.

Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, introduced the measure in late June.

She said it would highlight the experience of the western frontier, of transportation and settlement, of the gold rush and resource development in the remote area.

"It will chronicle a number of small historic communities that developed around transportation needs and one of Alaska's first gold rushes," the senator said. "It will recognize the struggles of early Alaska Natives, the Russians, gold rush stampeders and everyone who followed to produce trails and access into the resource-rich land of Alaska."

The measure would require no land acquisition by the National Park Service and would specifically prohibit any moves to obstruct or limit business or resource development activities in the corridor, according to the senator's office.

Court of Appeals considering pot case

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Court of Appeals is considering a case that could set precedent in the 1975 Alaska Supreme Court ruling protecting marijuana possession for personal use in the home.

A lawyer for a North Pole man convicted in 2001 of possessing marijuana in his home has appealed the conviction based on a claim that a nearly three-decade-old Alaska Supreme Court decision declaring personal pot possession a state constitutional right is still the law.

The Court of Appeals' decision will represent the first time a precedent-setting court decides whether the Supreme Court ruling still protects marijuana possession for personal use in the home despite a 1990 voter initiative that criminalized possession of any amount of the drug in any location, said Bill Satterberg, the defense attorney who submitted the appeal.

Satterberg's argument is based on the assertion that voters did not have authority to cancel a state constitutional right when they passed the initiative, making the Supreme Court's decision still valid.

Predator control in McGrath may be working

ANCHORAGE - An experiment to remove predatory bears from moose-calving grounds around the Interior town of McGrath to increase calf survival appears to be working.

An Alaska Department of Fish and Game study of radio-collared calves shows that nearly three-fourths of this year's newborn moose survived their first six weeks of life.

The survival rate in previous years was less than half.

State biologists in May removed more than 90 black and grizzly bears from an area around McGrath as part of a plan to boost moose stocks for local hunters.

Through last week, bears had killed 19 percent of this year's moose crop, half as many as in 2001 and 2002.

"That's really as good as we had hoped for," said Fish and Game research biologist Mark Keech. "We thought if we could decrease calf mortality by 50 percent (by removing the bears), that would be a reasonable and realistic number to shoot for."

Thieves take the cake

ANCHORAGE - These thieves really take the cake.

Early Tuesday, two men broke into the Resurrection Roadhouse and stole three slices of Chocolate Suicide Cake from the kitchen cooler, Alaska State Troopers said.

The burglars didn't steal anything else - just the cake.

The Chocolate Suicide Cake, a triple-layered ordeal with chocolate fudge frosting between each layer and a chunk of chocolate fudge candy on top, is one of the roadhouse's best-selling dishes.

Delectable as the cake is, general manager Judy Martin said it's not worth breaking the law over. Trooper Sgt. Brandon Anderson, who has tried the dessert, had to agree. Breaking into the roadhouse could cost the burglars up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine, he said.

"Risking breaking in like that for a piece of cake," Anderson said. "It's pretty amazing."

French trio to go on horseback from Valdez to Fairbanks

PALMER - Two French citizens have come to Alaska to travel horseback from Valdez to Fairbanks, and perhaps even as far as Prudhoe Bay.

The trip to Fairbanks, with a detour through McCarthy, will follow a 1902 mining route that roughly traces the current path of the Richardson Highway.

Philippe Lansac and Laurent Granier are traveling with Megan Son, an American they met in Seoul, South Korea. The three got ready for the trip at Alaska Riding Adventures outside Palmer on Friday.

They recently bought two horses, an 11-year-old Appaloosa named Boogie and a feisty 5-year-old Paint named Chevelle.

They plan to ride one horse and pack supplies on the other, with the three taking turns walking and riding.

Girl dies weeks after auto accident

ANCHORAGE - A 14-year-old Nikiski girl died of injuries sustained six weeks earlier when she was struck by a car as she crossed the Kenai Spur Highway.

Heather Faeo, died July 1, according to an obituary published in the Peninsula Clarion.

She had been in a coma at Providence Alaska Medical Center for about a month following the May 17 accident. After emerging from the coma, she was receiving physical and speech therapy at a special children's hospital in Denver.

She had been at the Denver hospital for about a week.

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