Big Lake, Alaska and The Susitna Valley News, Weather, Events, And More

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Saturday, January 20 2018 @ 01:39 AM AKST


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Historic Iditarod, Flat gold rush townsites saved from wildland fires

Alaska NewsBy the time the 2016 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race rolls around in March, the blackened landscape around the historic gold rush town of Iditarod will be covered in white.

Mushers won’t be able to tell how close a wildfire came to wiping out the checkpoint that bears the race’s name and marks the halfway point in the famed 1,000-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome.

But on June 21, the 104,183-acre Iditarod River Fire nearly destroyed what is left of the historic site. The fire, started by lightning on June 20, was moving toward the townsite when the Division of Forestry’s McGrath Area Fire Management Office deployed a load of eight smokejumpers from the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service to the area by helicopter.

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Three Parks Highway projects to change schedules

Alaska NewsThree construction projects on the Parks Highway from just south of Denali National Park and Preserve to just north of Healy will be shifting their schedules.

Staff for these projects will perform traffic-impacting work primarily at night for the rest of the season. These three projects are located between Miles 232-252 Parks Highway.

The move comes in response to concerns from residents and business owners about traffic delays in that area. The change in work schedules is aimed at reducing travel times.

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Parks Highway Planned Construction Information - 2015

Alaska Newshe Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will perform a significant amount of road construction on the Parks Highway during the 2015 construction season. Below is more information about each of the projects. For specific details during construction, including updated traffic control information such as delays, closures and weight restrictions, please visit
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Updated status of area burn restrictions and wildland fire-related closures

Alaska NewsWith progress by firefighting crews and improving weather conditions in many areas of the state, restrictions on burning and other activities are lifting throughout Alaska. This page will be updated as new information is available. For current fire information, please call the Joint Information Center at 356-5511 or go to .

As of 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 8, all state-imposed burn closures have now been lifted. Open burning is now being regulated on a day-to-day, area-by-area basis. Please read below for area-specific information.

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Wide - Scale, Complex Marine Debris Removal Effort Underway

Alaska NewsA major shoreline cleanup project underway in Alaska will remove hundreds of tons of marine debris that was generated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and subsequently deposited along the coastline of the United States and Canada.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)—along with other government agencies, non-profit organizations, and commercial partners—is launching a month-long helicopter and barge operation to remove marine debris on Alaska’s and Canada’s most harsh and remote shorelines. Funded in large part by a goodwill gift from the Government of Japan, the State of Alaska has contracted with Gulf of Alaska Keeper, an Alaskan non-profit organization, to coordinate this project. The operation will use helicopters to sling several thousand super sacks and bundles of marine debris from dozens of remote sites onto a 300-foot barge, the Dioskouroi (leased by Waste Management, Inc.). The barge will be towed by the tug M/V Billie H from Kodiak through the Gulf of Alaska and then south to British Columbia, picking up debris caches along the way. The debris will be offloaded in Seattle for sorting and recycling, with remaining debris sent by train to a final disposal site in Oregon. The barge is scheduled to arrive in Kodiak on July 15, 2015.

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Fireworks Suspension Update

Alaska News The Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office, in accordance with Alaska Administrative Code 50.025 Fire Code, has cancelled the suspension of sales of Fireworks In the following areas:

Copper River Valley
Fairbanks North Star Borough
Kenai Borough
Matanuska Susitna Borough
Municipality of Anchorage
Tanana Valley north of the Alaska Range

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Gov. Walker Appoints Marijuana Control Board

Alaska News Governor Bill Walker announced today his appointments to the Marijuana Control Board.

Governor Walker sponsored House Bill 123 to establish the Marijuana Control Board. The Alaska State Legislature passed the bill in April. The board is tasked with developing regulations covering aspects of marijuana cultivation, processing and commercial sale. The board will include representatives from the public health and safety sectors, industry, and rural Alaska. According to the transition language in HB123, general public seats will not be appointed until after the first terms of the initial board expire.

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Burn closure lifted in most areas except in Southwest AK, Anchorage

Alaska NewsDue to recent rainfall and increased relative humidity that has reduced wildfire danger, the Alaska Division of Forestry is canceling a burn closure for most parts of the state effective at noon today.

The closure, which has been in effect for nearly two weeks, is being lifted on state, private and municipal lands in the Kenai, Matanuska-Susitna and Denali boroughs, the Tanana Valley north of the Alaska Range and the Copper River Valley. The closure will remain in effect in Southwest Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage until further notice.

The areas that remain closed include Game Management Units 9, 17, 18, 19 and 21, which cover most of the area south and west of McGrath, as well as communities on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers west of Tanana.

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State Joins Lawsuit Challenging EPA and Corps

Alaska NewsJune 29, 2015 JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker announced today that the State of Alaska will join North Dakota and 10 other states in challenging the recently finalized “waters of the United States” rule adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps). The new rule attempts to define what waters are covered by the Clean Water Act, resulting in the need for a federal permit. However, instead of clarifying federal law, the rule has left states with more questions.

“This final rule will likely have detrimental impacts on development in Alaska,” said Governor Walker. “In addition to being incredibly expansive, the rule is also unclear. It will only lead to more expensive permitting and legal fights over ‘what is in’ and ‘what is out’ under the federal law.

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Alaska to Compete for Resiliency Funding

Alaska NewsJune 25, 2015 ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker announced today that the State of Alaska was selected as one of 40 finalists of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), a grant program that could provide millions of dollars to Alaskan communities to prevent future damage in disaster-impacted regions.

The NDRC is a two-phase process that will competitively award nearly $1 billion in HUD Disaster Recovery funds to eligible communities. The competition will help selected communities recover from prior disasters and improve their ability to better withstand and recover from future disasters, hazards, and shocks.

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Fraud Charges Brought Against 40 Individuals by the Alaska Department of Law and U.S. Attorney's Office

Alaska NewsJune 18, 2015 (Anchorage, AK) – The Alaska Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today that 40 individuals were charged with crimes for medical assistance fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, public assistance fraud and PFD fraud. The charges arose from alleged fraudulent conduct spanning back to 2007, amounting to more than $648,000 being taken from the public coffers.

These charges are the result of ongoing collaboration between various state and federal agencies through the Social Services Fraud Working Group. This group was designed to foster collaboration and efficiencies by bringing together representatives from all of the various state and federal agencies responsible for preventing waste, fraud and abuse within Alaska’s Medicaid, public assistance and PFD programs. Over the past three years, these agencies were responsible for 167 convictions and restitution judgments totaling more than $5.2 million.

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Alaska Leaders Seek to Improve Justice System

Alaska NewsJune 17, 2015 JUNEAU - Alaska today launched a comprehensive review of the state’s criminal justice system aimed at developing data-driven reforms to better protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. Governor Bill Walker, Chief Justice Dana Fabe, Senate President Kevin Meyer, House Speaker Mike Chenault, and Attorney General Craig Richards have charged the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission with submitting recommendations to the Governor and Legislature in December for consideration during the 2016 legislative session.

“I am confident that we can find ways to make our communities safer and cut the growing cost of our corrections system,” said Governor Walker. “With the Criminal Justice Commission, we have the right people and the right process to generate reforms that will improve public safety by keeping violent and career criminals behind bars and directing resources to programs that reduce rates of re-offending.”

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Commissioner of Labor Issues Alaska Hire Determination

Alaska NewsJUNEAU: Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas has issued an Alaska Hire determination, requiring that 90% of state-funded public construction jobs be filled by Alaska residents. This determination restores Alaska Hire requirements after they were rescinded in 2013.

“When the state of Alaska funds a construction project, those jobs should go to Alaskans first,” said Commissioner Heidi Drygas.

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Governor Restores Alaska Hire Requirements

Alaska NewsJune 10 , 2015 ANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Heidi Drygas announced today that they will be restoring statewide Alaska Hire standards for publicly-funded infrastructure projects through a Department of Labor and Workforce Development “Zone of Underemployment” determination. Effective July 1, 2015, this determination will ensure that at least 90% of jobs on public projects, such as road construction, are awarded to Alaskans.

“Alaskans know how to build infrastructure, and state funding for public projects should employ Alaskans first,” Governor Walker said. “With this Alaska Hire determination, we are restoring a long-standing, non-partisan policy that puts Alaskans to work on important infrastructure projects.”

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Governor Issues AO to Combine Two Divisions

Alaska NewsIn an effort to reduce costs and streamline delivery of services, Governor Bill Walker issued an administrative order today to combine two divisions in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The newly formed Division of Employment and Training Services will combine work currently done in two separate divisions, Business Partnerships and Employment Security. The Alaska Workforce Investment Board, formerly within the Division of Business Partnerships, will now be managed by the Commissioner’s Office.

The change is aligned with the Walker Administration Transition Team’s priority of reducing agency overhead, and Governor Walker’s goal of redesigning administrative infrastructure to maintain maximum program and services delivery.

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