Alaska News Nightly: January 31, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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ACLU Challenges Anchorage Sidewalk Law

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The ACLU of Alaska is challenging the Municipality of Anchorage law on sidewalk-sitting and panhandling. They say the law is unconstitutional.

NPFMC May Start Ocean Zoning Work Next Week

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Next week the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council may start work on zoning the ocean – something it began in 2005, when it protected the coral gardens of the Aleutian Islands.  This time, sea skate nursery areas are being considered.  The Council’s preferred alternative would avoid restricting fishing in these areas, instead directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to keep an eye on them.  But this issue may set the stage for deliberations later this year on two large canyons in the Bering Sea that are full of corals, sponges and skates.

Study Names Nome, Port Clarence As Best Region For Deep Water Arctic Port

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The state’s long held dream of an Arctic deep water port has moved one step closer to reality. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft report Wednesday that names the Nome/Port Clarence region as the best location for the port. It will be the subject of an upcoming feasibility – level study which will help further determine a site.

Murkowski Works On Making In-State LNG Line More Feasible

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is trying to make a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope more feasible. Environmentalists are welcoming a stretch of pipeline through Denali National Park.

New Legislation May Change Charter School Authorization Process

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Right now, if you and a group of like-minded individuals want to set up a charter school in your community, you need to petition your local school board to get the plan approved. A new bill could change that and open authorization up to universities, other government agencies, and nonprofits.

Mat-Su Borough Offering To Give Away Ice Breaking Ferry

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Matanuska Susitna Borough is offering to give away the ice breaking ferry “Susitna.”   Borough officials want to give away the ship to federal, state or local governments, because it is costing the Borough too much money to maintain it.

The Borough will also consider selling the ferry to a private entity. The “Susitna” was built with federal dollars as a U.S. Navy prototype vessel.  It can hold 20 vehicles and 120 passengers. It was supposed to serve passengers between Port MacKenzie and Anchorage. The Borough has not been successful in finding a landing site for the vessel on the Anchorage side of Knik Arm, and the Borough does not have funds to maintain the ship.

Borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan says the borough could sell the ferry to a private company for about $7 million – enough to cover federal grants the borough may have to pay back.

Alaska Whooping Cough Cases On The Rise

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

Last year the rate of pertussis or “Whooping Cough” in Alaska reached epidemic proportions and it’s likely the epidemic is ongoing.

Eco Marketing Campaign Backs Young Growth Timber

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

One of Southeast’s most prominent environmental organizations has started a marketing campaign – for timber.

The Sitka Conservation Society recently printed a glossy brochure selling the virtues of second-growth Tongass timber for projects from furniture to housing.

The only problem is: There’s no way – yet – to economically harvest and process second growth.

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