Alaska Bill Removes Public from the Process

By: Dave Atcheson

In a time when the state of Alaska is considering a number of projects that many see as a war on salmon and fishing, along comes a bill in the Alaska Legislature that continues the assault.

Being pushed by the governor as a way to streamline the permitting process, this bill severely curtails the ability of individuals or groups, such as native organizations or fishing advocates such as TU, to apply for water reservations. A water reservation simply means maintaining enough water in a particular stream or river to protect traditional uses, such as sport or subsistence fishing.

This contentious bill also bestows upon the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources unprecedented power, giving him or her the ability to issue general permits as they see fit and without a public comment period. This virtually silences ordinary citizens while large corporations need only ask the for the rights to use our water and land. Now, the DNR has even backed off their promise to hold public hearings on this bill. Many fear this bill is another step in the wrong direction, another slice in a “death by a thousand cuts,” for our fisheries.

Check out the comments of retired state Rep. Rick Halford in this recent news story:

http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/11/15/dnr-calls-off-public-meetings-for-permitting-bill/

A little more info here:

  http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131118/subsistence-users-should-speak-out-against-parnell-s-hb77-while-they-still-can

http://www.standforsalmon.org

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