Alaska News Nightly: October 23, 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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Eastern Steller Sea Lions Taken Off Threatened Species List

The Associated Press

A federal agency is taking the eastern population of Steller sea lion off the threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the eastern population has met recovery criteria the agency set in 2008.

In 1979, the agency estimated there were about 18,000 sea lions in the eastern population, which stretches from Alaska’s Panhandle to California’s Channel Islands. That number rose to more than 70,000 by 2010, the most recent year a count was available.

The western population of Steller sea lions, stretching from Cape Suckling, Alaska, west to Russian waters, remains listed as endangered.

The last species NOAA delisted was in 1994, when the eastern North Pacific gray whale was taken off the threatened species list.

Protesters Show Support For Hammond, Fischer in Pebble Mine Case

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Protesters gathered in Anchorage on Wednesday in support of constitutional convention delegate Vic Fischer and former first lady Bella Hammond. The crowd was demanding the state call off its efforts to recover $1 million in legal fees from Fischer, Hammond, and their co-plaintiffs in case over the Pebble Mine.

Anti-Pebble Groups Combine To Form ‘Bristol Bay United’

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

Three organizations that have come out in opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine – have formed a new group to lobby for permanent protections for the natural resources of the Bristol Bay region.

Tanana Kids Take On Tough Issues

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Elders and Youth Conference, a precursor to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention wrapped up Wednesday at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

‘Hunt, Fish, Share, Rock the Native Vote’ Concert Unites AFN Attendees

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

On the eve of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, a free concert to promote native subsistence rights is happening in Fairbanks tonight.

Anchorage Assembly Repeals Labor Law, Mayor Uses Veto

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage Assembly voted to repeal a controversial labor law at their regular meeting last night, but Mayor Dan Sullivan used his veto power to over ride their decision.

Northrim Buys Alaska Pacific Bank

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

Northrim BanCorp is purchasing Alaska Pacific Bank, with the Juneau-based bank becoming a Northrim subsidiary.

The two have signed an agreement for Northrim to acquire Alaska Pacific in a stock and cash transaction valued at about $14.3 million.

Former ‘Rat Island’ Has Whole New Look

The Associated Press

Five years after undertaking an effort to eradicate rats from a remote Alaska island, conservationists and federal wildlife officials are reporting success.

They say the island, once known as Rat Island because of its infestation of invasive Norway rats, is now teeming with birds, whose noises replace the silence that had been reported there earlier.

They also say for the first time breeding tufted puffins have been documented on the island, which is not inhabited by people and is in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Some other bird species are reported to be growing in number, as well.

The makeover of the island includes a name change. What was long known as Rat Island is now officially called Hawadax Island, a nod to the original Aleut name.

Sitka Prepares To Replace ANB Harbor

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW – Sitka

ANB harbor, near downtown Sitka, is usually packed with commercial fishing vessels, but this week, it’s empty. Its regular occupants have moved to other harbors around Sitka, as the city prepares to demolish all of the existing structures to make way for a brand new harbor.

State Expanding Advertising Efforts After 2012 Tourism Bump

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Tourism numbers are in for the 2012 summer season, and tourism experts say that the results are encouraging. Now, the state and tourism groups are looking at expanding their strategies to bring even more people to Alaska.

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