It seems ironic how Gov. Frank Murkowski seeks to reward commercial fishing and sportsmen's groups that helped elect him by muzzling their voice in the state permitting process. By transferring Title 16 permitting authority of Fish and Game to Natural Resources, Murkowski hopes to remove a perceived stumbling block to resource development. The truth is, the role of the habitat division has been to find ways to mitigate impacts to fish and wildlife, not block legitimate projects.
Murkowski's proposal overlooks the reasons for ADFG being given this authority - to assure that fish and wildlife have clean water, food and cover. To provide abundant fish and wildlife populations Alaska must provide healthy habitat. Without it, populations decline and along with it, harvestable surpluses.
By removing the role of ADFG as the voice representing the interests of commercial fishers, guides, sportsmen and non-consumptive users in resource development, the governor is trying to curtail healthy dialog. He seems to want to make all agencies assume the role of cheerleaders.
Let us hope that when lawmakers are asked to change Title 16 of the Alaska statutes, they decide to better represent those who helped elect our governor.