ADF&G Says No Need for Additional Waterway Protection Regulations

Two organizations opposed to surface coal mining operations
in Alaska salmon streams have asked for regulatory changes to protect
anadromous waterways from surface coal mining, but the state contends existing
regulations are sufficient.
The request in mid-March came from Trustees for Alaska,
which filed a legal petition on behalf of Cook Inletkeeper, the Chuitna
Citizens Coalition United Cook Inlet Drift Association, and Northern District
Setnetters Association of Cook Inlet.
The petition had 6,603 signatures, 6,003 of them from
Alaska, and the rest from more than two-dozen states, Canada, Europe and Asia.
Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora
Campbell said in a letter to Trustees for Alaska on April 12 that her agency
does not see a need to add to existing regulations a proposed section
specifically prohibiting approval of surface coal mining operations within a
catalogued anadromous water body. Her agency already has the authority to
prohibit an activity in a catalogued anadromous water body if plans and
specifications for the activity are deemed insufficient for the proper
protection of fish and game, she said. Campbell also nixed proposed regulations
to establish a public notice and public comment process for the Division of
Habitat permit applications and decisions under the Anadromous Fish Act. She
said the state’s constitution requires prior public notice only for disposals
or leases of state lands, or interests therein. The law does not require nor
provide for public notice prior to the activities authorized under that
statute, she said.
Campbell’s response to the legal petition came on the same
day as Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation backed by the Alaska Miners
Association and the Council of Alaska Producers establishing May 10 as Alaska
Mining Day.
Commercial, sport and subsistence fish harvesters are also
at odds with another proposed copper, gold and molybdenum mine, which would be
built at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska.
The public comment period has been extended through May 6 for
the public review draft on reclassification and plan amendment to the 2005
Bristol Bay Area Plan, which would establish new areas classified as wildlife
habitat or reclassify current areas to the co-classifications of wildlife
habitat and public recreation. More information is online at
For additional information or to submit comments, contact
Bruce Phelps, section chief, at 1-907-269-8534, or email