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UA News for January 20, 2022

In today's news: a new proposal would create a conservation area on UAF Matanuska Farm land; UAF women's basketball fall to Saints in the 4th quarter; a NOAA grant to the Alaska Ocean Observing System would fund new monitoring equipment; and the discovery of early skeletons provide insight into early human DNA.


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Frontiersman
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A conservation proposal could save a part of the Mat-Su Greenbelt from gravel digging

Published Jan 20, 2023

An 86-acre land parcel in the middle of a series of core area trails known as the Matanuska Greenbelt could receive permanent protection from development thanks to a proposed conservation plan.


The land, owned by the University of Alaska and managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Matanuska Farm and Extension Center (MEFEC) in Palmer, sits near the center of a broad trail system that includes the Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area and the Borough’s Crevasse Moraine trail system. Combined, the network spans 33 miles and is used by runners, hikers, bikers and even horses year-round. Land parcels in it are owned by the state, the Borough and the University system.


But a 2020 UAF proposal looked at leasing for gravel extraction a portion of the university’s land within the area, a move local recreation experts and some public officials worried would dramatically harm trail use. Facing shrinking funding, UAF officials said the decision was a necessary step for good financial management of its resources.


Now local conservationists and UAF officials may have found common ground through a land designation known as a conservation easement that would both help fund the university and protect the recreation area.


“The University has been exploring several options for monetizing portions of its MEFEC property. To that end, the University and local stakeholders formed a working group to review development options that will generate revenue for the University, while also serving the University’s mission and the local community,” UAF officials said in a public announcement published in late 2022. “As a result of these discussions, community stakeholders identified potential funding to purchase a conservation easement to protect the recreational value of a portion of the MEFEC and compensate the University for the loss in revenue from not developing that portion of the property for material extraction or subdivisions sales.”


The proposal, which was open for public comment until Jan. 19, strikes a deal between Alaska land conservation organization the Great Land Trust, the Mat-Su Health Foundation and the University that would pay UAF and then block the land from any development. Under the proposal the easement would be managed by Great Land Trust and funded by the Foundation.


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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
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Saints rally past UAF women in fourth quarter

Published Jan 20, 2023 by Olivia Olsen

The University of Alaska Fairbanks women’s basketball team blew an opportunity to gain their second GNAC win of the season Thursday, giving up a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter in a 71-63 loss at Saint Martin’s University.


The Nanooks (4-11 overall, 1-7 GNAC) took the defeat despite leading from the 4:23 mark of the first quarter — when Sam Tolliver drained a 3-pointer for a 10-7 UAF lead — until there was 6:55 to play. That was when Rian Clear hit a pull-up jumper to give the Saints a 55-54 lead.


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Latest Anchorage News RSS feed – Big News Network
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NOAA grants Alaska $1.3M toward ocean studies and management

Published Jan 20, 2023 by Georgina Fernandez

The first-of-its-kind grant from NOAA came from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds. $1.3 million will be going toward the Alaska Ocean Observing System.



Nicholson said that the funding will specifically be going towards helping AOOS with how they collect and deliver ocean information.


“This allows us to do a lot more than we have had planned,” AOOS Executive Director Sheyna Wisdom said.One of the ways AOOS plans on using the funds is by updating the current equipment they have been using out in the Arctic.


“A lot of the equipment that our researchers use from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and others has been operating in the Artic and other hostile working environments for quite a bit of time, and its just expensive to upgrade this equipment that is breaking down,” Wisdom said.


With the rapidly changing Artic Ocean conditions, AOOS says it’s critical they make sure the people that call these places home are up to date on the conditions. Having the right equipment is a key part of that equation.

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Buzznet
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The Discovery Of Two 11,500-Year-Old Skeletons Provides Insight Into Early Human DNA

Published Jan 19, 2023

In the early 2000s, anthropology professor Ben Potter began working in Upward Sun River, Alaska. This forested area is 50 miles from Fairbanks and can only be reached by helicopter.


Despite the difficult terrain, Potter had good reason for excavating there. That part of Alaska was originally connected to Europe and Africa.


In 2010, Potter and other researchers from the University of Alaska searched Upward Sun River. They discovered the cremated remains of a three-year-old child.


Then, Potter and his colleagues, José Víctor Moreno Mayar and Lasse Vinner, found their big break. They unearthed a burial site in an area of Alaska that was around 15,000 years old.


There, Potter and his team discovered two infant skeletons. One seemed to be a stillborn; the other was between six and 12 weeks old.

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