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I was dismayed to see Gov. Murkowski's rejection of the plea from the five past Fish and Game commissioners to leave the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game intact and with permitting authority. The governor cited delays in issuing permits and personal biases for moving some Habitat personnel and authority to issue development permits to the Department of Natural Resources. The former commissioners claim there have not been many delays in issuing permits and state that of 2,000 permits applied for each year, 99 percent are approved in an average of just 15 days. To substantiate his claim of bias, the governor mentioned an alleged pizza party celebrating the closure of the Ketchikan pulp mill. Whether or not there was a pizza party is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether Alaska's fish and wildlife resources would fare better under the Habitat Division or under the DNR.
The five ADF&G ex-commissioners are the most knowledgeable people in the state concerning questions such as which office should issue permits for developments that affect our fish and wildlife. They have a total of 30 years experience as top ADF&G administrators. Their collective wisdom in fish and game matters is immense. When such a blue-ribbon panel makes a joint recommendation, we should pay attention. Keep the Habitat Division as it is.