Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2004

United Way, League hold candidate forums today

JUNEAU - Voters will have two opportunities to check out local candidates today.

The United Way of Southeast Alaska sponsors a candidate forum in the lower training room of Catholic Community Service, 419 6th St. Juneau Assembly and School Board candidates will present their ideas and positions on health and human service issues. A facilitated dialogue between the candidates and the audience will follow. The forum starts at 10:30 a.m. and ends at noon.

The League of Women Voters will host a forum for Assembly and School Board candidates at the Assembly Chambers at 7 p.m.

Hunters object to Southeast land swap

ANCHORAGE - A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski that would trade federal land near Juneau to two Native corporations drew a protest by hunters and environmentalists in Anchorage.

The trade, known as the Cape Fox Land Exchange, would give two Southeast Native corporations up to 12,000 acres of federal land around the popular recreation area of Berners Bay near Juneau. The corporations, Sealaska and Cape Fox, would give up other land and mineral rights in Southeast.

Carl Rosier, a retired state Fish and Game commissioner under Gov. Walter Hickel, said any kind of development in the Berners Bay area was bad for the public.

"Who knows what's going to go on there?" he said. "Once the title is transferred, it's theirs. I'm not opposed to private land, but I'm opposed to private land in this case."

Several hunters and environmentalists dropped off signed letters at Murkowski's Anchorage office Monday, protesting the bill.

Effects of bear-control program still in question

FAIRBANKS - State wildlife biologists are adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward a predator control program near McGrath to boost the moose population.

The program, which involved capturing and moving more than 120 bears, has produced more moose calves in the area in the last two years. But it's too early to evaluate the overall success of the program.

"The real effect of this isn't going to be seen for several years when all the calves we saved now start producing their own calves," said state wildlife biologist Mark Keech.

Keech said the calves should be producing their own calves in two or three years. The goal of the program is to increase the moose population to sustain the needs of several villages.

State wildlife biologists moved 35 bears from a 520-square mile area in May, the second straight year the state has captured and relocated bears around McGrath to keep them from preying on newborn moose calves. Last year, the state moved 90 bears from the McGrath area.

Father charged with murder in child's death

KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan man charged with murder in the death of his young daughter has pleaded innocent.

James Paul, 44, was found unconscious in February on the floor of his apartment near the body of Sarah, his 22-month-old daughter. His attorney, speaking on his behalf, entered a plea of innocent to first-degree murder Monday in Ketchikan Superior Court.

Paul has been incarcerated on $100,000 bail since Feb. 25 in connection with multiple felony counts of possessing child pornography.

The Ketchikan Police Department investigation into the daughter's death culminated Thursday with a grand jury indictment charging Paul with one count of first-degree murder.

Federal judge dismisses Tongass forest lawsuit

KETCHIKAN - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging eight U.S. Forest Service timber sales in the Tongass National Forest.

The lawsuit against the sales near Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island was filed in federal court last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups.

Environmentalists argued that the Forest Service misinterpreted Tongass timber demand projections from its economists. They also said the Forest Service ignored recommendations from peer reviewers when it prepared the Tongass Land Management Plan.

U.S. District Judge James K. Singleton dismissed the suit, confirming a tentative decision he had issued this summer.

In the decision issued Friday, Singleton said that it is impossible to know for certain what market for forest products will exist for the life of the plan, and the Forest Service is not at fault.

As part of the decision, Singleton denied a request for an injunction on the Orion North timber sale on Revillagigedo Island near Ketchikan. The Forest Service awarded a $1.5 million contract for road work on the project to DuRette Construction of Ketchikan earlier this month.

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