Senate committee hears case for sockeye stamp

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s political party. He is a Democrat from Anchorage.

A proposed sockeye salmon stamp would only apply to sportfishermen throughout the Kenai and Kasilof river drainages.

The Legislature, scouring for new sources of revenue, is entertaining the idea of a required sockeye salmon stamp for anglers on both rivers. As it currently stands, the stamp would cost residents $15 per year and would be $150 annually for nonresidents, with several temporary stamp options available. The Senate Resources Committee reviewed the measure, HB 137, for the third time on Wednesday.

The original bill, introduced last March by Rep. David Talerico (R-Fairbanks) did not include the sockeye salmon stamp, but subsequent amendments suggested it. The stamp would mirror an established program for king salmon stamps, even down to fees, according to the bill.

Though all sportfishermen would be required to have the stamp, Alaskans seeking to participate in the immensely popular personal use fisheries on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers would be exempt from the stamp, said Tom Brookover, the director of the Division of Sportfish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“The way I’m reading that, it would not apply to the personal use fishery,” Brookover said. “My initial read is that it would not.”

Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), a committee member, asked if Fish and Game would be enforcing the stamps on the mainstem of the rivers or throughout the drainage.

“If you go to the Russian (River) … and you’re fishing in the Kenai, you can move 5 feet, and you’re in the river,” Wielechowski said.

Brookover said that as Fish and Game interprets the way the bill is currently written, the stamps would apply throughout the drainage for the two rivers, so there would be no demarcation between the Kenai and the Russian rivers.

Ricky Gease, the executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, testified to the committee in support of the sockeye salmon stamp. He said the cuts to the state Department of Natural Resources and other agencies could hurt enforcement and management. He cited the Kasilof River as an example, where there are no fees that go to support portable toilets and cleanup.

“We would like to see the sockeye salmon stamp included both for personal use and sportfishing,” Gease said. “We see the impacts every day here and we definitely need some additional funding to offset the management costs.”

Ted Wellman, president of the Kenai River Special Management Area advisory board, testified in supported the sockeye salmon stamp. He said the stamp would provide revenue for enforcement and support of the park.

“In the past few years, the impact on the Kenai River has been substantial from the increased use,” Wellman said. “And with the decrease in state funding, we’ll need the money to help with enforcement activities and also for bank protection and rehabilitation on the river as many people on the Kenai River do so as a bank fishery.”

The Senate Resources Committee will consider HB 137 again at 3:30 p.m on March 28.


Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Snow coats an eroding bluff near the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday, March 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai accepting bids on bluff stabilization project

The announcement means that contractors can start submitting their proposals for how they’d complete the work and how much it would cost to do so

A stack of the Seward Journal is pictured. The town’s only daily newspaper published its last edition Nov. 27. (Photo via Seward Journal Facebook page)
‘A thing of the past’

Seward Journal calls it quits after struggle to keep newspaper afloat

Tim Navarre and Dana Cannava discuss a preliminary Soldotna route for the Kahtnu Area Transit with Planner Bryant Wright at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Getting people where they need to go

Plans for Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Kahtnu Area Transit move forward

A state plow truck clears snow from the Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
DOT identifies roads included in brine reduction plan

The department said its goal is to reduce brine use overall in the region by 40%

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to the proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board finance group reviews expenditures ahead of upcoming budget cycle

As the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District prepares to grapple with another… Continue reading

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Silver salmon, personal use fishing discussed by advisory committee

The group set their recommendations on a variety of proposals to the State Board of Fisheries

Hoses pump water along Patrick Drive to help mitigate flooding near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Friday, July 21, 2023, near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough spent almost $78k responding to flood events during disaster declaration

Most of the funds were spend in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road

The National Weather Service’s map shows a winter weather advisory, in orange, effective for much of the eastern Kenai Peninsula. (Screenshot)
Heavy snow, blowing winds forecast for Turnagain Pass on Wednesday

Snow accumulations of up to 16 inches are expected

The Kenai Courthouse is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Grand jury adds charges in October killing of Homer woman

The indictment was delivered on Nov. 8

Most Read