Broad, Over-reaching Regulations Threaten Alaska
By Frank Hodnik
Holy smokes... I know it FEELS good to "stand up for salmon" which was MY initial response hearing about this yesterday. Then a friend suggested I vote no. I said what I normally say...we'll see after I read the proposition and review the details.
Just got done wading through this loose piece of legislation. Vague at best and we know what government enforcement LOVES to do with wiggle room. If one believes that Alaska should be kept as a museum of ecological tourism and a holy amphitheater for Gia in all perpetuity then by all means vote yes on 1. However, if you recognize that almost half the state of Alaska is already owned, controlled and regulated by the federal government and that development is already severely monitored and restricted out the wazoo, then think twice about this measure. The measure would cover over 19,000 streams and bodies of water in Alaska. This isn't just about the Kenai, Naknek, Russian River etc.
This is about broad, over-reaching legislation that impacts all private land that is even near a body of water. If the powers that be can't take private land out of the hands of Americans then they'll legislate to make owning and develop private land so arduous that owning it for intentions aside from a nature preserve is pointless. No sense owning a private car if you aren't allowed to drive it where you want to. We've seen too many examples of ham-fisted EPA enforcement on private citizens to trust this kind of legislative overreach. Given that the proposition leaves itself open to broad interpretation this is a BS proposition.
Homer has been effected negatively by this kind of ecological hand wringing and to extend it to the whole of our state is heartbreaking to imagine. Experts have asserted that our current salmon crisis is in no way tied to the freshwater aspect of Salmon growth cycles and development but rather, studies point to our oceans as the likely origins of causality. I'm 100% for salmon. I'm 100% for solutions to their poor showings over the last years. But when experts conclude that there is no indication that freshwater habitats are to blame then this whole proposition is more than fishy. As a lifelong Alaskan I was raised a conservationist. I was raised to respect and honor the habitat I was born into.
Yet for 40 years I've watched talented Alaskans move out of state to find a financially sustainable destiny due to the fact that Alaska could not afford them the opportunities to live and work where they were born. I get it that folks from other states love to move from the overdeveloped and polluted slums of the lower 48 and I certainly have no interest in our state following suit with their places of origin. Alaska, unlike the places these people came here from, has followed a different timeline than them. Conservation and preservation has been part and parcel to how we've managed Alaska for a large part of our existence as a state. We are already aware and are ahead of the caring curve.
However "yes" for a bill that ties the hands of legitimate industry and private property owners while doing NOTHING for salmon in all reality is a bad idea. Let's not throw our states future potential down a hole for the sake of yet another group of misinformed yet probably well meaning environmentalists to signal to their friends and attempt to become historically relevant before they die. It's not good for Alaskan's aside from adding more jobs to ADFG which will pale in comparison to the jobs and opportunities lost by its adoption. This legislation is poorly written, falsely substantiated, and shows no potential to address the issues it claims to champion. So it will receive a NO vote from anyone who wishes for an Alaska where the people AND the salmon thrive together. All considered carefully there's no option but NO on this one.