Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2003

Brown bear wanders around neighborhoods

ANCHORAGE - Dozens of people have reported seeing a brown bear roaming Eagle River neighborhoods, where the animal grabs garbage from driveways, approaches pets and ignores people who shout at it.

"He's not passing through the area; he's owning the area now," resident Colleen Deese said. "I'm worried for my kids."

As many as 50 people have called state biologists with reports over the past few weeks.

Deese and her husband, Guy, watched the bear amble down the middle of Highland Ridge Drive early Wednesday morning, visiting one house after another.

"He didn't care that anybody was out there," Deese told the Anchorage Daily News. "It was pretty intimidating that he was just walking right on up on people's porches."

The bear, a 3- to 4-year-old of unknown gender, obviously has learned to associate people with food, said Rick Sinnott, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"It thinks we're a bait bucket," he said.

The Anchorage area is home to an estimated 60 brown bears and up to 250 black bears, many of them attracted to Eagle River for its salmon run and undeveloped wild land. A young grizzly was shot in the area a few years ago for similar behavior.

So far this year, an estimated six brown bears have died in the city, most due to vehicle collisions.

Delta Junction man dies after rollover

ANCHORAGE - A Delta Junction man has died of injuries suffered last month in a single-vehicle accident on the Richardson Highway, Alaska State Troopers said Thursday.

Chad McEwen, 26, died Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, troopers said.

McEwen was speeding south on the highway early on the morning of Sept. 28 when his 1977 Porsche coupe veered off the roadway near Mile 262 and rolled into a ditch, according to troopers.

The car flipped back onto the roadway and rolled over several times before it ended up on in the ditch on the other side of the highway. McEwen, the only occupant in the car, suffered head injuries, troopers said.

Alaska mine resumes shipments to S. Korea

JUNEAU - The state will provide coal to South Korea after a one-year hiatus, Gov. Frank Murkowski's office said Thursday.

The Usibelli Coal Mine in the Interior began exporting coal to Korea 18 years ago. Usibelli, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Korean East West Power Co. signed an agreement earlier this week in Seoul that calls for two more years of coal export. The contract calls for 400,000 metric tons of coal to be delivered each year.

Murkowski has been in Asia since last week.

Coast Guard rescues 5 off sinking crab boat

JUNEAU - Coast Guard helicopter rescue crews rescued five fishermen from their sinking 85-foot fishing vessel an hour before the start of the Bristol Bay red king crab opening.

According to the Coast Guard, a crewman from the Raven radioed a Mayday call at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The crewman said the vessel began sinking in Bristol Bay about 50 miles north of Cold Bay.

The Raven crewmen were identified as Shawn Wheeler and Bill Sager, both of King Cove, Dennis Bell and Brent Kaschmitter, both of Riggins, Idaho, and Lawren Keeler of Reno, Nev.

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau launched a Dolphin helicopter rescue crew to the scene. Another Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew positioned in Cold Bay for the season opener went to the scene. The two rescue crews airlifted the Raven crewmen to safety.

Native corporations revenues: $2.9 billion

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's 12 Native regional corporations and 30 Native village corporations had revenues of $2.9 billion in 2001, according to an annual report.

The corporations paid out $52.1 million in dividends to shareholders and $434 million in payroll to employees in Alaska.

The corporations also donated $9.3 million to charities and $4.1 million in scholarships to 2,821 Alaska students, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

The report is a real eye-opener, said A.J. McClanahan, a historian with Cook Inlet Region, Inc., who directed the study on behalf of the Association of ANSCA Regional Corporation Presidents and CEOs.

"Most Native shareholders are familiar with their own corporations but aren't as familiar with the others or the financial strength of all the corporations collectively," he said.

Alaska Native corporations are in a wide range of businesses, from petroleum services and pipeline construction and maintenance to oil drilling, mining and mining support work, catering and camp services, timber harvesting and construction.

Many have acquired businesses or expanded out-of-state, and some are doing work internationally. A major area of business for Native corporations is support work for federal agencies on military bases and other facilities.

NovaGold mine near Nome to open in 2006

ANCHORAGE - NovaGold Resources Inc.'s new gold mine at Rock Creek on the Seward Peninsula should begin producing in early 2006, according to company officials.

The project eight miles north of Nome will require a capital investment of about $40 million. It is expected to create about 100 new full-time jobs for local residents.

NovaGold, a Vancouver, B.C.-based exploration company, has three exploration drill rigs working on the hard-rock gold deposit, according to its president and CEO, Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse.

The company is confident that at least one million ounces of gold can be produced at Rock Creek. It expects to complete a feasibility study next June.

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