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The people have spoken

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On April 9, the Alaska Legislature took the first step in returning ownership of Alaska's wildlife to all Alaskans by denying yet another extremist, Al Barrette, from the Board of Game membership.

If you heard the proceedings for the joint session confirmation hearings, Barrette's supporters were full of statements as to his being a great person, great family man, etc. If that's all it takes to be on the board, thousands would qualify.

Fortunately, it takes more. Legislators who opposed him were able to cite statements and votes demonstrating his representation was limited mainly to the Alaska Outdoor Council and the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife view (and he's proud to hold the first aerial hunting permit). If you heard testimony from that crowd at the earlier hearings, you could almost hear them thinking, "If you don't hunt or trap, you don't deserve any say in our wildlife management."

These groups are too politically savvy to be that forthright in their public statements, but one needs only look at their constant efforts to hijack all wildlife management to see they silently make this distinction. And if you do hunt as a true subsistence user, they still hold you as a second-class citizen, something many such testifiers noted in opposing Mr. Barrette.

Our state constitution mandates Alaska's wildlife shall be managed for all Alaskans. Whether Leatherstocking reincarnated or some little granny, each has equal say, equal ownership.

The Legislature said that is still so, and that it's time for the AOC/SFW extremism to end.

One hopes the governor will show more consideration for the state constitution this time and not pick from the approved AOC/SFW list only. As we heard at these hearings, many hunters and trappers did not support Mr. Barrette; regular citizens were disenfranchised by his views, and biologists, subsistence hunters and big game guides felt he was the wrong person for the job. Against this diversity of Alaskans stood one narrowly-based presence, the AOC/SFW, still trying to hold our wildlife hostage.

The people spoke, loudly and clearly. And this time the Legislature listened. It's a small step but all great journeys begin thus.

Art Greenwalt

Fairbanks



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