OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                “Save our wild salmon”                                    Credit:  fishdee.wordpress.com

 

A proposed ballot initiative aimed at modernizing salmon habitat protection and permitting laws was denied last week by Lieutenant Governor Mallot. The measure would update the Title 16 laws for the first time in 60 years.
But because it would appropriate waterways and that can’t be done by ballot initiative, it was ruled unconstitutional.

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The measure is still very much alive as House Bill 199, the Wild Salmon Legacy Act, introduced by Representative Louise Stutes of Kodiak.

 “I’ve said this numerous times and I will continue to say it. My intent is not to put any resource out of business. That is not the way we should operate as a unified state. We all are trying to make a living here. My intent is to ensure that our fisheries go on in a sustainable manner with their waterways maintained in a healthy, clean, safe way. I totally believe we can all work together.”

The Legacy Act presumes that all state waterways are anadromous, meaning  for salmon returning from the ocean to spawn in their  home streams. The burden of proving a stream is not anadromous would fall to a developer.

Stutes says that will save the state millions of dollars, and create  more efficiency and predictability in permitting projects.

 “Lets’ face it. I think we have all come to the conclusion that we cannot continue to depend on our oil as our mainstream income. We have to diversify. And in the meantime we all have to tighten our belts. The state cannot continue to pay these huge costs. And by sharing the burden, and that’s what this does, it will save the state millions of dollars”.

Under current law, each water body must be sampled and then added to the Anadromous Waters Catalog. (AWC). The catalog serves as the trigger for Fish and Game’s authority to manage habitat and issue permits.

Less than 50 percent of Alaska’s anadromous waters are now listed in the catalog.

Right there it’s going to save millions of dollars in labor  just by saying we will consider all waterways and streams are anadromous unless proven otherwise. “

Fish and Game has backed law updates, saying the changes would increase efficiency and predictability.

“Even ADF&G is in agreement that their job will be made easier with a little bit more specific direction and parameters as to what their duties are. Now it is so fluid it is hard for them to implement them uniformly.”

Stutes, who also chairs the legislature’s Fisheries Committee, will be traveling the state to get input on the salmon habitat laws in advance of next year’s session.

“I want to make sure this is an open, public process and everyone has an opportunity to learn about it.”

 

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