Political shifts in fish protection underscore need for habitat initiative

I have been thinking long and hard about the salmon habitat ballot initiative that will be on Alaska’s November ballot. I served as Director of the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for seven years under Govs. Steve Cowper and Wally Hickel, and as commissioner of the department for eight years under Gov. Tony Knowles. I, and the professional biologists who work at Fish and Game, implemented the current anadromous fish habitat statutes.

All three administrations I worked for had strong advocates for salmon and anadromous fish habitat. I am confident that we did a good job of protecting anadromous fish habitat. So, what has changed to make me want to see the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative pass?

The initiative puts clear, science-based salmon habitat standards in statute and provides for a robust public process when resource development decisions that could have significant negative impacts on salmon habitat are made. These standards are the principles we used when we made decisions, but they had no assured standing beyond our tenure.

Without clear science-based standards, each person’s judgment as to what constitutes “proper protection” can be different.

LINK (via: Alaska Daily News)

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