Kudos to BOF for effort to make changes

Members of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission and key borough staff were honored at the March 4 Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting for efforts at the recently completed Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in securing changes aimed at improving the health of our Northern District salmon stocks.

I am a member of this commission. While honored by the assembly’s gesture, I want to point out the other folks who helped bring about these significant changes.

The commission is an authorized and recognized agency of the Mat-Su Borough.

Without the borough assembly’s support, we would not have been in the position we were to work with the BOF in explaining our conservation concerns in the Northern District.

With this support, we were able to hire a professional biologist/consultant who is very familiar with Cook Inlet issues and is a great organizer and strategist. We received further testimony from the cities of Houston, Palmer, and Wasilla about the negative impacts being felt from lack of healthy salmon stocks. Several of our valley legislators also submitted written statements about our conservation issues.

Members from the Mat Valley Fish and Game Advisory Committee and the Anchorage AC presented testimony and served on committees. Hundreds of Northern District residents submitted written and/or oral testimony during the meeting about the poor condition of our valley salmon populations. This level of public support from the Northern District hasn’t been seen i decades, if ever, at a BOF meeting.

Two of our key borough staff are public relations specialists and played a major part in publicizing BOF happenings and “getting the word out” to the public about submitting comments. They arranged both TV and radio interviews for commission members and our consultant. Another borough staffer was instrumental in defusing the various habitat issues being portrayed as the only reason why there are no salmon in the Northern District.

And let us not forget our friends to the south, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and the Kenai River Professional Guide Association for their support as well. While our areas and specific issues were different, KRSA and the KRPGA both aided us in their testimony and in arguing similar issues in their area. Getting kings into the Kenai is, in many ways, similar to getting salmon into the Northern District. Those points were not lost on BOF members.

While the MSBFWC might have been the tip of the spear, there were a bunch of other folks who played very important and key roles in our efforts. To all of them, I say a heartfelt “Thank You.”

I was raised to thank a person when they helped me out in some manner. It would be very appropriate for sport anglers and those interested in healthy Cook Inlet salmon stocks to thank the BOF for their efforts in changing the basic approach to how salmon will be managed in Cook Inlet. Send your thanks to Board Support, PO Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526 or email them through the ADF&G website.