|Girdwood snowboarder Callan Chythlook-Sifsof is the first Alaska Na tive to earn a berth on an Olympic team.|
First Alaska Native Joins Olympic Team
AN ALASKA WOMAN made history in January when she was named to the U.S. winter olympic team. Snowboarder Callan Chythlook-Sifsof of Girdwood is the first Alaska Native to earn a berth on an olympic team.
Chythlook-Sifsof, age 20, was one of 18 snowboarders chosen to compete at Cypress Mountain in british columbia as part of the Vancouver Olympics in February, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The news capped a year of sometimes painful rehabilitation for Chythlook-Sifsof, a Yupik and Inupiaq eskimo who tore her anterior cruciate ligament at the beginning of the 2008-09 world cup season.
Chythlook-Sifsof spent her early childhood in Aleknagik, north of Dillingham and learned to snowboard on Marsh Mountain and 2,426-foot Mable Mountain. when she was 12, the family moved to Girdwood, where Chythlook-Sifsof honed her skills at Alyeska Resort.
By 2006, she earned a berth on the national team and in 2007 she medaled in a World Cup snowboardcross event and bagged a national championship according to the Daily News.
Chythlook-Sifsof competes in snowboardcross, a race in which four snowboarders start simultaneously, running a course of jumps, berms, steeps and flats. It debuted in the winter olympics four years ago, when Lindsey Jacobellis of Vermont took the silver medal, the Daily News said. In the Vancouver Olympics Chythlook-Sifsof fell on both of her qualifying runs, and failed to advance to the quarterfinals of her event.
|Community members in Bethel, which recently voted to lift an alcohol sales ban, say they don’t want liquor sales to begin in town, but they are tired of the state limiting the amount that individuals can import.|
Town Wants Liquor, No Sales
EVEN AFTER BETHEL VOTERS lifted the city’s 32-year ban on liquor sales, leaders on both sides of the debate were trying to block anyone from actually opening bars or liquor stores in the western Alaska town, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The city of 6,000—which was the largest damp town in Alaska, meaning possession of alcohol was allowed but it was illegal to buy or sell it locally—voted to lift the alcohol ban after petitioners got the question on a ballot. Proponents of the ballot measure said they didn’t really want liquor sales to begin in town, they were simply tired of the state meddling in local alcohol rules by limiting the amount individuals could import for personal consumption, the Daily News reported.
Several businesses and groups requested liquor license applications after the vote, and while the local city council can recommend against awarding licenses, the state’s liquor control board makes the final decision on liquor licenses.
Now, sponsors of the effort to repeal the liquor prohibition have started a citizens coalition opposed to anyone opening a bar, liquor store or alcohol-serving restaurant in Bethel.
Nine out of 10 crimes in the city were alcohol-related before the damp designation was lifted, the Daily News reported, and local law enforcement and health officials worry crime and domestic violence will rise in Bethel and the surrounding dry villages.
Villages to Benefit From Cable Project
ALASKA NATIVE CORPORATIONS and a multi-national company plan to build a 10,000-mile undersea fiber optic cable from Tokyo to London through the Arctic Ocean. The cable project is possible because the shrinking polar ice cap has opened an ice-free Northwest Passage.
The project is being planned by Arctic Cable Co., a partnership between Kodiak Kenai Cable Co. and a multinational energy and infrastructure development firm with offices in Texas, Virginia, London, Qatar and Dubai, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
KKC is owned mostly by Old Harbor Native Corp., with Ouzinkie Native Corp. as a minority investor. KKC has laid fiber-optic cable between Kodiak, Kenai, Homer, Seward and Anchorage.
If Arctic Cable can line up customers and financing, construction will start next year and be completed in 2013 the Daily News reported.
In addition to connecting Asia and Europe, the proposed cable, which would cost about $1 billion, would touch land in Dutch Harbor and Prudhoe Bay, allowing high-speed Internet connections to as many as 142 villages across the state that now rely on satellite connections for communication. High-speed Internet could create economic opportunities in the villages and improve communication be- tween rural doctors and national medical experts.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service has awarded an $88.1 million federal broadband stimulus grant and loan package to the major telecommunication service provider in southwestern Alaska to install landline broadband links from existing networks to 1,750 households and businesses in 65 rural communities. The company expects to start work on the project this year and complete the project by the end of 2012, according to PR Newswire.
|Target stores have sworn off farmed salmon, and are now selling only wild-caught salmon from Alaska, a move the corporation hopes will help preserve the resource.|
TARGET TO SELL WILD SALMON
TARGET ANNOUNCED IN JANUARY that it has eliminated all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen, and smoked seafood offerings nation- wide. All salmon sold under Target- owned brands is now wild-caught Alaska salmon, and all sushi sold by the company will be made with wild- caught salmon by the end of 2010.
Target officials consulted with ex- perts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California to determine how to en- sure that its salmon comes from sustainable resources, helps to preserve fish stocks and species health and doesn’t harm local habitats, the company said in a press release.
Farming salmon can release pollution, chemicals, parasites and non-native farmed fish into wild salmon habitats, the company said. The Monterey Bay Aquarium considers wild-caught salmon from Alaska a “best choice,” and it is also certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council.
|PATRICK J. ENDRES/ALASKAPHOTOGRAPHICS.COM|
|Several years of low fish counts on the yukon River have left commercial and subsistence fishermen struggling, and the Alaska Board of Fisheries recently voted to limit the mesh size on their gillnets so that more large fish can reach their spawning grounds.|
RULES TO PROTECT BIG KING SALMON
THE ALASKA BOARD OF FISHERIES voted in January to limit subsistence and commercial fishermen on the Yukon River to gillnets with 7.5-inch mesh or smaller, beginning in 2011.
Most fishermen on the Yukon use nets with 8.5-inch mesh to specifically target big kings, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner report- ed, and the Board of Fisheries believes that reducing the catch of large kings in the river will allow more large fish to reach their spawning grounds and eventually help the commercial and subsistence fishery recover from its significant slump. State fisheries biologists are also concerned that too few kings have been reaching the upper Yukon River in Canada, contravening an international treaty.
The seven-member Board of Fisheries had rejected the net restriction in the past but members decided they needed to take action now, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
The decision will mean subsistence fishermen in the region will have to buy new nets if they wish to continue fishing the river, as will commercial fishermen if the fishery is re-opened this summer.
Strait Affects Global Climate
THE 50-MILE-WIDE BERING STRAIT between Alaska and Russia has played a large role in climate fluctuations during recent ice ages, according to a study published in a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Ice conditions and sea levels in the strait dramatically alter the distribution of heat around the planet, according to a report on the study published in Christian Science Monitor. When sea levels declined during the Pleistocene era, cutting off the flow of water from the Pacific to the Arctic through the strait—and revealing the land bridge that allowed humans to migrate from Asia to the Western Hemisphere—the North Atlantic ocean got warmer, melting ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sea levels were about 400 feet lower during the Pleistocene than today, but they rose again as glaciers melted, covering the Bering land Bridge again, and today, about 211 million gallons of water per second flow into the Arctic from the North Pacific, the Christian Science Monitor said.