The salmon ballot initiative everyone in Alaska is talking about

Bristol Bay sockeye. Photo by FlyOut Media

By: Nelli Williams

When Alaskans go to the polls in November we will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot measure 1 called, “An Act providing for protection of wild salmon and fish and wildlife habitat.” You may have already heard of this as the measure being backed by the group “Stand for Salmon,” and opposed by “Stand for Alaska.”

We are writing today to share why Trout Unlimited Alaska and thousands of other anglers and business owners are supporting ballot measure 1. Join the community of anglers, hunters and outdoor lovers that will be voting YES this fall.

Trout Unlimited took a very careful look at this measure in deciding to offer our support. Here are the top three reasons we support the salmon habitat initiative:

  1. Adds science-based standards: The initiative creates a permit system backed by science and agency experts, not politics. Projects will be evaluated on criteria clearly laid out in the initiative, not vague language that is highly subject to politically-driven decision making.
  2. It makes financial sense: States in the Pacific Northwest spend billions each year trying to restore their wild salmon runs, which were decimated in large part due to unchecked development in salmon habitat. We recognize that Alaska needs mining and other development projects. However, we also know that our economy is heavily based on fishing, recreation, and tourism. If projects that cause lasting significant harm to our salmon rivers proceed, our state’s salmon populations will plummet. When salmon become scarce, we can expect what we’ve witnessed in the Lower 48 – more government mandates, costly restoration or mitigation efforts, and lost economic opportunity.
  3. Creates a two-tier permitting system: The initiative differentiates between “major” and “minor” proposals and treats them accordingly. By creating a two-track permit review system we will be able to safeguard our salmon from projects incompatible with clean water and wild salmon like the proposed Pebble Mine, while giving safe, reasonable development a green light. A proposed mine the size and location of Pebble should not be given the same level of review received by permits for a dock, road, or smaller project.

If ballot measure 1 is passed, critical salmon habitat will be protected and a majority of projects in salmon habitat will continue to move forward, unless they cause severe long-term harm to our fish habitat. The legislature had ample opportunity to fix the existing inadequate permit system to better protect our salmon resources, but failed to do so.

With Pebble quickly advancing, we cannot afford to wait any longer. It’s time for Alaskans to get in the driver’s seat and determine our own salmon future.

In the coming months, we’ll be holding a series of events (check here for the latest) and sharing more information on why ballot measure 1 is good for Alaska and how you can help ensure it passes in November. Our healthy fisheries, Alaska’s world-class angling, and our strong economy are depending on us this November.

Please do not hesitate to comment below or email me (nwilliams [at] tu [dot] org) with any questions, or to discuss this more.

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

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.