As the Alaska general election nears, groups on both sides of the Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure 1 have ramped up their public engagement to try and sway voters their way.
Cook Inletkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, released a letter today (Wednesday) from 58 retired state and federal agency scientists and managers who support the Stand for Salmon initiative.
Cook Inletkeeper touts them as “58 scientists NOT paid by Exxon and Pebble,” a dig at the opponents of Stand for Salmon.
Bill Larned, a wildlife biologist and pilot with nearly 40 years of experience in the field is one of several local scientists who signed on to the letter. He said Alaska was the last pristine stronghold for salmon.
“We need to hold that very dear and do whatever we can to prevent the collapse of those wild stocks,” he said.
Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure 1 seeks to bring Alaska’s Anadromous Fish Act, or Title 16, up to date in an effort to protect salmon habitat. It is opposed mainly by Outside oil and mining interests, which Cook Inletkeeper says are spending $11 million to defeat the proposition.
“Everything has to be balanced between those who have a very very strong attachment for and feeling for and economic dependence on one resource and there are others that have their bucks involved in other resources, and there’s going to be clashes when they’re utilizing the same real estate,” Larned said. “So it is inevitable and it’s also understandable.”
Larned says he understands the fear resource developers face, but doesn’t think the measure is unreasonable.
“It is a frightening thing to have to jump through more hoops. Believe me, I’ve been with the government for a long, long time and even we, as government officials have to jump through a lot of hoops just to do what we are paid to do,” he said.
Other local signatories to the letter include Dave Athons, Willy Dunne, Jeff Fox and Ken Tarbox.
Here is a link to the joint statement by the 58 retired wildlife managers and scientists. Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure 1 will appear on the general election ballot November 6.