Legislative Takes Testimony on Bill Affecting Fisheries Waters

The Alaska Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee is holding
a hearing today (April 3) on House Bill 77, a measure some say would undermine the
public’s ability to participate in management decisions related to fishing and
hunting resources.
The hearing can be seen and heard online by logging on to “akl.tv”
and clicking on Senate Finance Committee.

The 12-page bill itself, introduced at the request of Gov.
Sean Parnell, is online at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20%2077&session=28
Opponents of the measure, including the Renewable Resources
Coalition, have issued a statement saying that HB 77 eliminates rights of an
individual or organization to request that water remain in a stream, river or
lake for the benefit of fish, wildlife, recreation, transportation and other
economic and cultural uses.

HB 77 removes mandatory public notice and public comment
periods for preliminary best interest findings and limits who can participate
when challenging flawed decisions undermining Alaska’s fishing and hunting
resources, the coalition alleges. Testimony is being taken statewide at
Legislative Information Offices in Alaska. Comments are also being accepted by
Senate Finance Committee co-chair Kevin Meyer at Sen.Kevin.Meyer@akleg.gov

Anyone wishing to submit comments should request that their
comments be considered official written testimony on the bill and added to the
public record.
The lengthy measure includes a number of amendments to the
existing Alaska Land Act, including one in section 40, which authorizes the
state, an agency or a political subdivision of the state to apply to the
commissioner to reserve water to maintain water level throughout a year or
specific times to protect fish and wildlife. The amendment would remove the
right of individuals to make such application.