In March of 2018 the AKSAF Executive Committee sent a letter to the Alaska Special House Committee on Fisheries regarding House Bill 199. Alaska House Bill 199 is; “An Act establishing major and minor anadromous fish habitat permits for certain activities; establishing related penalties; and relating to fish ways and the protection of anadromous and other fish habitat”. The original language in the bill called for the assumption of all surface waters in Alaska to be classified as anadromous, changes to riparian buffers and bonding requirements for fish habitat permits. The language in more recent versions of the bill has changed due to opposition by many commercial sectors but now many of the original proponents of bill are in opposition to its current form. The bill has been stuck in committee this entire legislative session. If this bill fails to make it out of committee, a similar voter initiative called “Alaska Salmon Habitat Protection Standards and Permits Initiative” will go before voters in the fall. The language in the voter initiative reflects the language in the initial bill with the assumption of anadromy.
Alaska SAF is not in opposition to fish habitat, in fact we are very much in favor of it. Salmon is a very important economic and subsistence resource in Alaska. However, HB199 and the voter initiative fails to take into account the work, research and collaboration that went into developing the Alaska Forest Resources and Practices Act (FRPA) and the associated Best Management Practices of that act. FRPA and the BMP’s were developed to protect fish habitat and water quality and there is ample proof that it’s working. Alaska SAF feels that the existing standards and practices in FRPA should be the basis for forestry operations in Alaska.
The AKSAF Executive Committee developed a position statement on FRPA and introduced it to the membership at the 2018 Alaska State SAF meeting in Fairbanks. The members voted unanimously in support of the position statement.