Alaska's King

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Location: Alaska, United States

Welcome from the King of Alaska.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Spiders migrating to Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska - They make your skin crawl when you see them and Anchorage is seeing a lot more of them these days. With an increase in spiders come more reports of spider bites. Just within the last week Providence Alaska Medical Center says more and more people are coming in to be treated after being bitten. Exterminators say business is booming.

If you're in the pest control business you're doing pretty well for yourself. Exterminators are dealing with an ever-increasing bug problem.

Russell Perry is on a hunt. Searching in the darkest, wettest corners for a culprit so tiny you almost don't see it. For $300 Perry will get rid of these guys. He's been exterminating a lot of spiders lately.

“It's been extremely heavy this year compared to previous years,” said Ken Perry of Paratex Pied Piper Pest Control.

Almost two jobs a day. Ken Perry, Russell’s boss, says spiders have become big business this year. He suspects it's because of milder winters.

“We had a gorgeous beginning of summer, very dry and warm at the beginning of the summer and the insect population has exploded and the spiders follow that population explosion,” said Ken Perry.

An explosion that could affect your wallet and your health. Just ask Connie Suchan.

“I went to the doctors’ July 24 for what I thought was just a scrape that for some reason wouldn't heal,” said Suchan.

It didn't turn out to be a scrape. Suchan says it was a spider bite from a Brown Recluse, an insect not native to Alaska.

It’s one of the most dangerous spider bites you can get, but according to Ken Perry, it's not the only one. He's also seen Hobo and Black Widow spiders in Alaska.

Providence says if it is a spider bite it will become red and swollen. Some of these bites don’t go away for several months. It might be several days before you realize that you’ve been bitten. You may get sores or start itching.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

For Sale: 15 National parks

U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, chairman of the House Resources committee, has proposed to raise money by selling off 15 national parks, including seven in Alaska, according to a draft bill circulating Friday.

Park supporters declared themselves outraged.

"Can you believe this Pombo guy?" said Jim Stratton, Alaska director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

But Pombo's spokesman, Brian Kennedy, said the 285-page draft is not to be taken seriously. Its purpose, Kennedy said, was to come up with proposals that would raise as much money for the federal government as oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Pombo ardently supports.

Drilling opponents should see that if Congress doesn't open ANWR "it would be outrageous and absurd alternatives, like selling national park units," Kennedy said. "So you see the joke."

The National Parks Conservation Association obtained a leaked copy and rang the media alarm. By Friday afternoon, the story was all over the place.

The 19 million Alaska acres on Pombo's list:

• Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

• Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

• Cape Krusenstern National Monument

• Kobuk Valley National Park

• Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

• Noatak National Preserve

• Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Pombo, R-Calif., included the park sell-off in a draft of the budget reconciliation bill, a tool Congress sometimes uses to reach budget goals. As chairman of the resources committee, he was charged with proposing changes to public land laws to raise or save $2.4 billion. As expected, his draft also includes a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, which is projected to meet Pombo's revenue requirement on its own.

Kristin Pugh, a spokeswoman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said she likes the ANWR part. As for the Pombo's park proposal, "I can definitely tell you that Sen. Murkowski won't be going along with that," Pugh said.

Pete Schaeffer, chairman of the Cape Krusenstern subsistence resources commission in Kotzebue, doesn't think it is a joke. He sees the draft as a threat to the rural Alaskans who depend on hunting in those parks for their food.

The government needs money, and the deficit is ballooning, he said. The rest of the country might think selling Alaska parks is a good idea, he said.

"With our 'bridges to nowhere,' there's probably little sympathy for us," Schaeffer said, referring to the $450 million Alaska got this summer for two mega-spans.

Pombo is a rancher who represents the San Joaquin Valley and believes the government intrudes too much on private property owners. His congressional Web site features photos of him in a cowboy hat as well as recipes for his "BBQ marinade" and guacamole.