Alaskans: Understanding the Alaska Supreme Court Decision on Ballot Measure One

By: Nelli Williams

Trout Unlimited is supporting ballot measure 1 in Alaska, titled “An Act providing for protection of wild salmon and fish and wildlife habitat,” on which every Alaskan will have the opportunity to vote when they go to the polls on November 6.

We urge all Alaskans eligible to vote to join the community of anglers, hunters and outdoor lovers in voting YES this fall.

If you’re following along with the news, you may have seen that the Alaska Supreme Court just ruled that the ballot measure can remain on the ballot for the November election after removing two provisions it found to infringe on duties granted solely to the Alaska legislature. While the language may have changed slightly, this initiative still stands to overhaul Alaska’s outdated and ineffective salmon habitat permit scheme for the better, and improve the way in which the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) can ensure sensitive salmon habitat is protected during development of our natural resources.

Ballot measure one would still add science-based standards to the law, creating a two-tier “major and minor” permit review process, as well add public notice and comment periods to the process. If you want a general overview of the initiative, click here.

Though ADF&G will have ultimate decision-making authority over whether a project like Pebble can get a permit to operate in salmon habitat, this initiative will substantially raise the bar for major development projects that threaten Alaska’s salmon and the people who depend on them.

The initiative will still ensure that major development activities are held to high standards with the opportunity for public input, and still creates a robust process that developers must undertake to operate in or along salmon streams. 

Most importantly of all, the initiative still affirms that the people of Alaska, not big corporations, will have a voice in the way our resources are developed and a say in how our salmon resources are conserved going forward.  The decision by the Court last week should also end any misconceptions that this initiative would stop all development in Alaska outright. While it wouldn’t have before, it certainly will not now.

If you’re following the news, you also know that large, multi-national companies involved in extractive development in Alaska, including the Pebble Partnership, have together committed more than $9 million to oppose the ballot measure. We’ll never be able to match them in spending, which is why getting the word out is critically important.

Click here to pledge your support for the salmon habitat initiative, and ask your friends to do the same.
If you own a business, join other hunting and fishing businesses supporting the salmon habitat initiative by signing onto this letter to Alaskan voters.

Interested in displaying a sign in your yard or business? Email

Nelli Williams is the Alaska director of Trout Unlimited. She lives in Anchorage with her family. 

Paid for By Trout Unlimited Alaska, Anchorage, AK. Nelli Williams Director, approved this message. Top Three Donors are Dan Michels, Wasilla, AK; Alaska Fishing Unlimited, Port Alsworth, AK; and Josh Grieser, Anchorage, AK.

By Jenny Weis.