Northwest Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

New probe finds more riches at Pebble site

ANCHORAGE - The company hoping to build North America's largest gold mine in Alaska says new drilling indicates an even larger deposit at Pebble than previously thought.

Already believed to contain 27 million ounces of gold and 16.5 billion pounds of copper, Pebble's girth could actually be much bigger, mining executives say, provided further investigation confirms this summer's exploration results. Samples from several holes drilled on the eastern flank of the deposit, located about 25 miles northwest of Iliamna, revealed very high grades of gold, copper and molybdenum, they said.

"This is a new system with the potential to significantly enhance the size and grade of the Pebble deposit," said Bruce Jenkins, a top manager of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"This is incredibly exciting," Jenkins said. "There could be a heck of a lot more mineral resource."

A decision on whether to develop the gold and copper prospect is several years away.

Longer summers cause Arctic warming

ANCHORAGE - Global warming research in Alaska largely has centered on the retreat of sea ice and its effect on atmospheric change in winter.

But a paper published Thursday concludes that summer warming in arctic Alaska, occurring primarily on land, also has had a strong effect on high latitude warming trends.

And the authors conclude that continuation of current trends resulting in less tundra and more shrubs and trees will further amplify atmospheric heating, perhaps two to seven times.

The paper, "Role of Land-Surface Changes in Arctic Summer Warming," was published in an advance online publication, Science Express.

"Summer warming is more pronounced over land than over sea ice, and atmosphere and sea-ice observations can't explain this," said Terry Chapin, the study's lead author and a professor of ecology at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The study focused on Alaska's North Slope north of the Brooks Range and parts of western Alaska, Sturm said.

Previous studies and paleoclimate evidence indicates that the Arctic in summer is warmer than at any time in at least 400 years, according to the study.

Black slug shows up in Soldotna yard

SOLDOTNA - European black slugs are not native to Alaska, but one has shown up on the Kenai Peninsula.

The slug, which can grow up to 5 3/4 inches long, was found Monday in a Soldotna yard.

According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Office, the slug can cause extensive damage to crops and other vegetation on the peninsula.

More commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, the Arion ater slug will eat any kind of vegetation available, including grass, weeds, flowers, tree leaves and even mushrooms, said Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician.

The slugs generally hide from the drying sun during the day and look for food at night.

Chumley said it's likely the invasive species arrived on the peninsula by way of landscape material shipped from the Lower 48.

The resident who discovered the slug hasn't done any recent landscaping, however, and does not have any close neighbors.

Chumley also worried about the timing of the slug's arrival.

"Now is the time they start laying eggs," she said.

Bush calls ex-Kodiak Coast Guardsman

KODIAK - It's one thing to report to your superiors, but it takes on new meaning when it's President Bush asking the questions.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Josh Mitcheltree, formerly based in Kodiak, got that call recently after a night of Hurricane Katrina rescue operations.

Mitcheltree answered his cell phone to hear the voice on the other end say: "'This is George Bush. Good morning,"' Mitcheltree told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Bush asked him about his job, which is rescue swimming, and asked him to describe what he saw during rescue missions.

Mitcheltree, now stationed at Elizabeth City, N.C., told Bush he saw families trapped in their homes, "babies, kids and grandparents, too.

"Every time I got a call from someone who needed help, on the way there we'd see hundreds of people needing help," Mitcheltree said.

Bush thanked him for his efforts and asked him to pass on thanks to his crew.

Mitcheltree said he would, but it was hard to keep that promise when greeted with guffaws when he said: "Listen everyone. I have an important message. The president and I just got off the phone, and he said to tell you to keep up the good work."

He said even his mother didn't buy the story - that is, until he recounted it on a national morning talk show.

Mitcheltree later met Bush on one of the president's trips to the Gulf.

Seattle bus tunnel to close for retrofit

SEATTLE- Navigating congested downtown city streets is no easy task. And it's likely to worsen as the city's bus tunnel closes this week for two years of construction to make way for light rail.

The 1.3-mile tunnel will be closed beginning Saturday so workers can begin retrofitting it for use by both buses and light rail. It's set to reopen in September 2007, with light rail beginning two years later.

Sound Transit is paying for the $26 million bus-tunnel project as part of its $2.6 billion plan for a 16-mile light-rail line from downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

To accomodate the project, some streets have been reconfigured, and new bus stops and shelters have been added to upper streets using an additional $16 million from Sound Transit, Metro, Community Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation.

While construction is under way, the downtown routes of more than 70 Metro and Sound Transit buses will be changed, affecting an estimated 100,000 weekday riders. The routes will be transferred to Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth avenues - north-south downtown streets already congested with motorists, delivery trucks and cabs.

Most of the bus traffic will be funneled to Third Avenue, which will have an increase in bus volume of as much as 60 percent.

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