Stand for Salmon’ a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

By Charlie Huggins

The 2018 election cycle has a ballot initiative called ‘Stand for Salmon’ which you will get to vote on. Stand for Salmon is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing.’ This measure, if passed, will threaten our Alaskan way of life. Proponents claim it will improve fish habitat protections but this new law is so flawed and poorly written that, in the end, judges and lawyers will make decisions that determine how we, as Alaskans, live our lives.

I came to Alaska in 1976 as a young Captain in the US Army and soon committed to make Alaska home.

I live here for the same reasons as many Alaskans - personal freedom and individual liberty, lack of big government intrusion, the ability to live life on your own terms, not like they do ‘Outside’, world-class hunting and fishing, our uniquely Alaskan way of life, economic opportunity and honest, decent, down-to-earth friends and neighbors.

It is the love for our way of life that compels me to alert my fellow Valley residents about the risks of a poorly-written and misguided ballot measure that will likely go before Alaska voters this year. The so-called “fish habitat” ballot initiative would wreak havoc with our communities and economy, and cost Alaska jobs. As important, it poses a real threat to the Alaska way of life that I, and so many others, cherish.

How can something as harmless sounding as a “fish habitat” measure be bad for Alaska and Alaskans? This ballot measure is a perfect example of how bad things result from a flawed process. The group promoting this ballot initiative got together and wrote the language in secret, without public input. Worse, they are funded and supported by Outside environmental activists, who don’t share our view of what Alaska is and should remain. They don’t respect personal freedoms; they don’t share our distaste for bureaucracy and big government; and they don’t understand what makes Alaska special to Alaskans.

Just last week, the supporters group took in a $100,000 campaign donation from a Boston billionaire, which represents nearly a quarter of their overall campaign funding. The donor, John Childs, is an East Coast hedge fund private equity investor who apparently wants to have his say on policy issues in Alaska.

Wealthy East Coast donors and private foundations have been the primary source of the money in support of this ballot measure. These donors from New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. think they have the right to decide quality of life decisions here in Alaska.

Is it any wonder they overstepped and came up with a really bad idea?

We Alaskans are going to have to protect our rights and stand for Alaska by rejecting this onerous measure.

Here are some of the facts surrounding the new “fish habitat” law these Outsiders are supporting:

  • It vastly expands the definition of “fish habitat” so that most of Alaska waters and wetlands will be designated as protected habitat, even if no fish are known to exist, making them subject to the new permitting standards
  • Major infrastructure projects, like roads, dams, ports or runways would be cost prohibitive and could be abandoned, including the Glenn Highway reconstruction project into Palmer
  • Private property owner’s rights will be at risk, whether building a bridge over a creek or removing rocks from a riverbank
  • The cost of proving the water has no salmon, trout, or Dolly Varden falls to the permit seeker, forcing individuals, rural communities and small companies to pay for expensive scientific studies or forego their project
  • It replaces our current world-class fish habitat protection system with a highly complex regulatory system that is expensive and time-consuming for companies, citizens and the state
  • Resource development projects in oil, gas and mining will be at risk and may not go forward, including the Alaska LNG project; jobs would be lost and our economy will suffer

A slowdown or stoppage of resource development projects would reduce income flowing to the state and the Permanent Fund.

Nearly a year before the election many significant Alaska organizations are proactively opposed to the ‘wolf’ (e.g. Stand for Salmon). These organizations have come together as ‘Stand for Alaska’ to protect our State and our way of life: Associated General Contractors of Alaska, Alaska Chamber, Alaska Oil and Gas Association, labor unions (Teamsters and Laborers), Alaska Native corporations, ANCSA Regional Association, Alaska Miners Association, and the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.

I encourage every resident of the Mat-Su to take a good, hard look at this misguided ballot measure. Our economy and our rights as Alaskans don’t need any added costs or threats. Get the facts, Alaskans. Our way of life depends on it. Stand for Alaska!!

Read the original column in the Frontiersman here:

Lizzie Rosen