WORKSESSION TO ADDRESS CUTTING OF WOOD ON CITY PROPERTY
The Valdez City Council will meet in a work session tonight at 6pm to bring forward a potential ordinance addressing wood harvesting on City property. City Community and Economic Development Director Lisa VonBargen says, "informal firewood harvest is no longer a viable option on City land because of the abuse of the policy".
The report says, "Staff has not seen any instance of a single person harvesting a few trees for personal firewood. Instead, several groups of people have been harvesting large amounts of wood in a short time, likely as a source of income. Residents of Robe River call the City to complain weekly, and when City staff does an inspection of the forest the damage that is being done to public land is beyond reproach. In one week, staff counted over 25 stumps taken, and recently wood harvesters have begun to fell live trees".
A resolution will be voted on during tonight's meeting that makes it illegal to harvest firewood on City lands without a permit and authorizes the police department to enforce a $200 fine. The ordinance also includes posting of signs at entranced to Robe River forests, hiring a professional to remove dangerous stumps and working with the state forester on a fair way to conduct a firewood harvest.
SUBSIDY APPROVED FOR REFINERIES IN VALDEZ, NORTH POLE & KENAI
At 2:30am this morning the State Senate approved a bill that will grant subsidies of up to $20 million a year to Petro Star refineries in Valdez and North Pole and up to $10 million to the Tesoro refinery in the Kenai reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to their report the 40 percent tax credit subsidies will be offered for five years and will be paid in the form of refunded taxes or cash payments to the companies in exchange for “infrastructure expenditures” at the refineries. The financial aid plan, requested by Petro Star after the shutdown of the Flint Hill refinery was approved in a 14-6 vote, explained the Dispatch. The same legislation made waves last week after receiving approval from the House Finance Committee, reports Liz Ruskin for Alaska Public Media. Although lawmakers on both side of the aisle express a desire to see Alaskan refineries succeed, Ruskin reports that some question the bill’s methods, including Anchorage Representative Les Gara saying, “It’s a bailout, it’s a giveaway, it’s poorly crafted,” Gara says. “It costs the state $150 million over five years, and it gives $50 million to Tesoro who doesn’t even want the money. At a time when we can’t afford our schools we need to come up with smarter solutions than just giving money to companies.” According to the report supporters like, North Pole Representative Steve Thompson believe the bill will not only help Alaska refineries but will keep other institutions such as Eielson Air Force base in business. Some representatives expressed concerns that the bill was presented with more detailed financial information from Petro Star saying no “meaningful analysis.” In the words of Representative Alan Austerman of Kodiak, “We’re just going based upon, a company come(s) to the state of Alaska saying that ‘we’re going to go out of business if you don’t give us some money.” CLICK HERE to read the story from the Alaska Dispatch CLICK HERE to read the report from Alaska Public Media
HIGHWAY NEIGHBORS MEET IN VALDEZ
Tourism industry folks from Valdez, Glennallen, Tok and other areas on the road system met in Valdez last week for an information sharing event called "Highway Neighbors". The Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the event that included "Meet and Greet" events as well as presentations from the Department of Transportation, the Alaska Tourism Industry Association and Alaska Fish and Game. Industry leaders are expecting this year's tourism season to be strong. Alan LeMaster of Gulkana Fishing Charters addressed the group saying "I think they're coming and they're coming in good numbers". Laura Saxe of Eagles Rest RV Park said reservations are looking very good for the summer and she is also anticipating a good year.
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