Stand for Salmon is science based


November 1, 2018

I suggest Ms. Josephson talk to Haines biologists that manage the local fishery before concluding ADF&G Habitat Division has been using a ‘science-based’ approach in permitting decisions. Coho have been doing well in the highway project area since before the current project started, but Sport Fish Division has documented a significant loss of king salmon rearing habitat in the Chilkat River project area. Habitat has refused to require DOT use the best available technology to improve rearing habitat, and they actually permitted placing fill in the river during the entire king salmon upriver migration—two examples of how Habitat has allowed the habitat to be degraded. They are not following a ‘science-based’ approach, nor providing leadership regarding habitat issues. The Alaska Coastal Management Plan (ACMP) was enacted in 1977. It provided federal funds, habitat standards and a public process to review development proposals. Alaska’s fisheries thrived; we had a reasonable process that protected habitat and allowed needed development and infrastructure projects, such as the Haines Highway upgrade near the border. When that upgrade was completed in 2003, DOT could legitimately say that habitat was better after the project than before, and it was permitted in much less time than the current project. In 2011 Alaska became the only state in America to scrap the ACMP program. The Stand for Salmon ballot measure will reinstate a science-based approach to project reviews. It may require some extra time and money, especially for large projects, but our fish are worth it.

Ben Kirkpatrick


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