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Local News

NOAA says Cook Inlet beluga numbers increased slightly

Monday, March 30, 2015 8:15am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The endangered beluga whale population in Alaska's Cook Inlet increased slightly in a 2014 estimate but federal researchers say it's not scientifically significant. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists say the 2014 estimate is 340 animals, up from the 2012 estimate of 312 animals. Cook Inlet belugas were listed as endangered in 2008. Population biologist Rod Hobbs says in a release that small changes from survey to survey don't tell as much as a trend over 10 to 20 years regarding the recovery or decline of a population. Population estimates have ranged from 278 to 375 animals in the last decade. The overall population trend for the past 10 years shows the white whales not recovering and still in decline.

Ideal growing conditions lead to Fairbanks birch seed boom

Monday, March 30, 2015 8:00am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Melting snow in Fairbanks has been covered by a shade of rusty brown and foresters say the source is birch trees. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports ideal growing conditions starting last summer helped birches produce an abundance of seed, which accumulated throughout the winter. University of Alaska Fairbanks assistant professor of forest science Jan Dawe says anecdotal reports and limited sampling seems to verify a strong birch seed crop. She says a combination of warmth and moisture starting early last summer was ideal for birch trees. She says it's more costly energetically to make seeds but when conditions are right, trees will make a bumper crop. The development is good news for people with allergies. Pollen is associated with production of catkins instead of seeds.

Tuesday is deadline to apply for PFD

Monday, March 30, 2015 7:45am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaskans are almost out of time to sign up for their share of the state's oil wealth this year. Tuesday is the deadline to apply for the 2015 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. The payout is based on the five-year average of the fund's statutory net income. Last year, the $1,884 payout distributed to Alaskans was more than double the amount of the $900 checks received in 2013, but short of the record payout of $2,069 in 2008. 

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