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June 11, 2019 / This week from The Signal

Why are starfish dying?
Why is Wrangell drying?
And are Alaska's Congress members trying (to read the Mueller report)?
Juneau residents Gary Gillette and Renée Hughes (and to a lesser extent, their fluffy dog Galena) help run the Gastineau Channel Historical Society. This year, the couple is celebrating the 25th consecutive year of continuous operation at the Last Chance Mining Museum. But for Gary and Renée, the museum has been their home for even longer. (Photo and story by Elizabeth Jenkins/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

But first… Haines vs. America in sports

A small contingency of seasoned Haines athletes will be heading down to Albuquerque this week for the National Senior Games, an Olympics-style competition for experienced athletes. I was especially charmed by these relentless competitors recently profiled by KHNS-Haines reporter Claire Stremple. As Claire says in her brilliant opening line, "The golden years are no time to slow down — they’re a time to bring home gold medals." Good luck, folks! Bring it home for Alaska!

49 problems but a budget ain't one

If the Legislature's having PFD problems, I feel bad for them, son.
  • Government funds self: The Alaska Legislature has been busy busy busy the past few days. The House passed an operating budget on Sunday, then the Senate followed suit on Monday. The budget bill now goes to Gov. Mike Dunleavy's bill-signing desk, which presumably is his usual desk for regular governor stuff. But the issue of the PFD amount remains unresolved. Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media, as always, is all over everything.
  • All or nothing: Last week, the governor stopped by his old stomping grounds in Wasilla to drum up support for his PFD proposals. Alaska Public Media's Wesley Early attended the rally, where Dunleavy said this about critics of his proposals: “They’re not really talking about compromise. They’re talking about capitulation. They want you to capitulate. They want you to give up and move so far to that side that you no longer recognize who you are or who you represent. And quite frankly, I refuse to do that.”

News from around the ocean

About 70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water. We cover 100% of it.
  • Star search: Die-offs of West Coast starfish have been puzzling scientists in recent years. At first, the consensus was that sea stars were victims of some widespread disease. But as KBBI-Homer's Aaron Bolton found out, more and more researchers suspect climate change could be the main culprit.
  • Addressing harassment: A typical NOAA observer is tasked with inspecting hundreds of commercial fishing boats each year. For female observers, these inspections often bring an added hazard: sexual harassment. Renee Gross of KBBI-Homer tells us that NOAA is encouraging observers to report bad behavior from the fishers they interact with.
  • Water water nowhere: Southeast Alaska, which is mostly temperate rainforest, is in a drought. That's a problem for cities like Wrangell — especially in the summer, when demand for water is high. June Leffler from KSTK-Wrangell tells us how the city is trying to cope.

Video of the week

Roughly 45 miles into Denali National Park and Preserve, on Denali Park Road, is Polychrome Pass — a steep, windy and breathtaking vantage point, with sweeping views of valleys and mountains. But a creeping landslide there is nudging the road downslope at a pace of 12 feet per year. As Nat Herz of Alaska's Energy Desk reports, scientists say the problem could be a preview of Denali’s future as permafrost thaws. (Video by Joey Mendolia/Alaska's Energy Desk)

Just one more thing…

Have you read the complete (redacted) Mueller report yet? If you haven't, don't feel too bad, because neither has anyone in Alaska's congressional delegation.

Alaska Public Media's D.C. correspondent Liz Ruskin asked Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Don Young how far along they were on the 448-page report. While Murkowski said she intends to read the full tome and is currently "wading through it," Sullivan and Young weren't as committed to that approach.

More news around Alaska

The Signal is written by KTOO Digital Media Editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO Managing Editor Jennifer Pemberton.

KTOO News is member supported.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.