April is “Bear Awareness Month” in Alaska. Though only a few reports of bears awake and roaming around have so far been received, Department of Fish and Game biologists say that’s likely to change any day. In preparation, the department is asking people to take down bird feeders and place garbage, livestock feed and pet foods indoors or in bear-resistant containers.
Bears appear around homes early each spring, drawn by bird feeders stocked with seed and suet. To prevent attracting hungry bears, feeders should be taken down by April 15. Storing pet and livestock foods, trash and other bear attractants inside, in a garage or sturdy shed or in bear-resistant containers further reduces unwanted bear visits. Owners of chickens, goats and other small livestock should consider erecting electric fences to discourage raids by bears. Once bears associate homes and people with food, they often return.
Feeding bears, even unintentionally, is illegal and leaving attractants out around homes, cabins or camps in a manner that attracts bears can result in fines.
The state issued an emergency order to extend the studded-tire deadline to May 1 for all Alaska roads. April 15 is the normal deadline for roads on Alaska south of 60 degrees north latitude and roads north of this geographic designation already fall under the May 1 deadline. The 60th parallel crosses Alaska south of Ninilchik and north of Happy Valley. The Sterling Highway that runs across the Kenai Peninsula also falls under the normal May 1 deadline.
The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council passed a resolution March 26 asking the Alaska Congressional Delegation to help improve the long standing Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Authorized in 1986 and funded through the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund provides funding to mount a federal cleanup response to oil spills, but has seen very little in the way of changes or updates since inception.
In the wake of a number of large maritime oil spills around the United States and the council’s experience in Prince William Sound over the last few years, the council believes now is the time to improve and amend the Fund to facilitate oil spill prevention.
The council has made four specific recommendations: To increase the per barrel fee on petroleum collected at refineries that is contributed to the fund; require that all cargo and other commercial ships using U.S. ports contribute to the fund. Clarify and facilitate use of the Fund for oil spill prevention measures.
Revise oil spill liability limitations in the Oil Pollution Act so as to more equitably reassign liability from the public to those who are using the waterways of the U.S. for commerce.
The council hopes to improve the public capabilities to prevent future oil spills. It also wants to continue to appropriately fund federal response and cleanup actions from a wider variety of maritime activity.
Join Kachemak Heritage Land Trust for the inaugural Science Symposium in Homer on April 17-18. The symposium will be an opportunity for all partners to discuss the draft Conservation Action Plan, as well as an opportunity for partners to share their ongoing work and get feedback on ideas for the future.
The symposium will feature a series of presentation sessions and break-out groups, but the highlight of the symposium will be an evening social and presentation by Dr. Randy Olson, scientist turned filmmaker. Dr. Olson’s keynote address is titled, “Winning Hearts and Minds Through a More Critical Approach to Storytelling.” For more information, call 235-5263.
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