The Stand for Salmon initiative that could go before voters this fall aims to update habitat protections for the first time since statehood in 1959..
But it has little support by candidates running for Alaska governor. Here are their responses at last weekend’s the Bristol Bay Fish Expo in Naknek.
Republican Mike Dunleavy of Wasilla – I don’t support the Stand for Salmon initiative because the way it is put together, I believe there are a number of projects throughout the state that could be at risk. This is a resource state and we need to develop our resources. We need to do it responsibly and I think the projects should be reviewed separately and held to a permitting and processing standard. I just don’t think an initiative such as Stand for Salmon is good for Alaska and that is why I oppose it.
Republican Scott Hawkins of Anchorage – The Stand for Salmon initiative I think would have a lot of unintended consequences. If you look at it carefully the devil is in the details. I think it would shut down a lot of things in this state. It’s not that our permitting process couldn’t do with some tightening up. We need to have a permitting process that knows how to say no. Just because you apply for a permit should not mean that at the end of the day you are going to get it. We need to be the place on the planet that knows how to do things right. In order to have that we need a very stringent permitting system that holds projects to very high standards and it needs to be able to say no. I don’t think the Stand for Salmon initiative is the way we get there.
Republican Mead Treadwell of Anchorage – I don’t support the Stand for Salmon initiative. As I said before, I helped write water quality laws and water quality rules in this state. There is a way now to identify what is an anadromous stream. If it is, it needs to be protected. What this bill does, it essentially assumes that every stream is when it’s not. This would take away your property rights without protecting the fish. That’s why I believe most Alaskans will oppose this initiative. Do I stand for salmon and believe we need to protect salmon? Absolutely. I don’t think this is the right law to do it.
Governor Bill Walker – I’m concerned what Stand for Salmon could do but I look beyond that. I believe the reason we have Stand for Salmon is because the Coastal Zone Management program went away many years ago. And when you take that away, you’ve taken away local input into the process. I think this is what happens when you take away local input – you meet them at an initiative ballot or you meet them in the court room and I think that is unfortunate. So while I don’t support it, I certainly understand that local input is critical in the process, but I don’t support Stand for Salmon.
Democrat Mark Begich of Anchorage – It is still in the court and I am anxious to see that decision and at that point I will make a decision. But I will say this very clearly – the laws of Title 16 should be revamped and reviewed. That has not been done. As a matter of fact, this is a clear symbol of what’s wrong and what is broken in Juneau. When you have almost 50,000 Alaskans that bring forward an initiative you have to respect their views and figure out how to fix this problem that they are expressing in keeping our salmon and making sure it is preserved for generations to come.