Alaska has put a hold for now on a multi-million dollar hydroelectric project on the salmon rich Susitna River in the Southcentral part of the state, due to a fiscal crisis brought on by the downturn of oil prices globally.
Gov. Bill Walker’s decision in late June to shut down that project, along with a halt on the proposed Knik Arm Bridge, drew kudos from the Susitna River Coalition, which represents upwards of 13,000 individuals, groups and businesses in Alaska who want the river to remain free flowing.
The coalition contends that the project, which would include a huge dam and 42-mile long reservoir and power plant, would have a devastating impact on all five species of wild Alaska salmon in the river, do damage to the visitor, recreation and hunting sectors of the economy, and have an adverse impact on habitat for caribou, bears, moose and migratory birds. The coalition also contends that public safety would be threatened by locating a dam in an active earthquake zone.
The coalition issued a statement praising Walker’s decision for showing leadership “that will be the governor’s lasting legacy. He is on the right side of history-preserving our salmon rivers, putting the state’s economy first and listening to Alaskans,” they said.