AK BHA has been trying to find out for sure whether the public will be allowed to submit sheep proposals for next year's Statewide meeting (March 2016). I have been getting lots of calls and emails on this. As it now stands, the public can not submit sheep proposals for next year's statewide meeting that have to do with seasons, or new draw hunts etc; only the Board-generated proposal 208 that was deferred to the 2016 statewide meeting can address those issues.
We don't believe this is the way the process is supposed to work. Link to letter below as well as text. I hope more people write and call in on this and the Board allows the public to send in sheep proposals as well.
April 11, 2015
To: Alaska Board of Game
Cc: Governor Bill Walker, ADFG Commissioner Sam Cotten, DWC Director Bruce Dale, Board Support Executive Director Kristy Tibbles, Boards and Commissions Director Karen Gillis, ADFG Regulations Specialist Natalie Weber, DOL Asst. AG Cheryl Brooking
Re: Statewide Call for Proposals 2016
Public Not Allowed to Submit Proposals on Sheep Issues.
Dear Chairman Spraker and members of the Board,
Over the past couple of weeks, as Chairman of Alaska Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, I have been communicating with Kristy Tibbles and Natalie Weber to find out just what type of proposals will be allowed for the 2016 Statewide Cycle A & B meeting. They have both been extremely helpful as always.
As you know, because of the new 3-year Board cycle, this will be the first time both Cycle A & B will be heard at the same statewide meeting.
Thanks to the help of Kristy and Natalie, we were given an explanation of what type of sheep proposals would be allowed for the 2016 Statewide meeting. Kristy summed it up in this email, below. I had asked if a proposal similar to our last sheep proposal #111 would be allowed:
“1. Changing all sheep registration hunts to permit hunts, as suggested in proposal 111. This would not make the Call as it would require changing 85.055 (every registration and permit hunt is established under 85.055.)
2. Changing permit allocations for all existing sheep drawing hunts will make the Call provided proposed changes have statewide applicability; this would fall under 92.057. Permit allocation for specific hunts under 92.057 will not be accepted.
Even though proposals to change sheep general season hunts to registration or drawing do not make the call and will not be accepted comment on those topics are encouraged. By deferring proposal 208, the board is looking for comments on how to change those things, though not in the form of proposals.”
In looking through past Cycle A and Cycle B statewide meetings, we have confirmed that seasons and bag limits and other parts of Chapter 85 and 92 of the Alaska Administrative Code have been allowed to be proposed. Yet they are not allowed for the 2016 Statewide combined Cycle A & B meeting. We don’t know what has changed or why or by whom.
What we do know is that for many meetings now, the Board has said on the record that they want to deal with these sheep issues on a statewide basis. Yet the public as well as Fish & Game Advisory Committees and organizations such as ours cannot submit a sheep proposal for next year’s statewide meeting that contains the same regulatory changes under 85.055 within the Board-generated proposal 208.
The only avenue for discussion and change is for the public to comment on the Board-generated proposal 208, which itself is controversial in its own right, not to mention that it includes options that the public has never before requested.
We mean this with all due respect: This is not how the process is supposed to work.
In the rationale for the Board-generated proposal 208, under “What is the issue you would like to address and why?” the Board said:
“During the last few Board meetings, the Board of Game (board) has received several proposals requesting changes to sheep seasons statewide. Hunters are expressing dissatisfaction with Dall sheep harvest opportunities. Many of the concerns expressed have noted increasing conflict among Alaska resident sheep hunters, hunting guides, transporters, and non-resident sheep hunters. Proposals were deferred until the February 2015 board meeting in Wasilla. At that time, the board will consider changes to all aspects of sheep hunting seasons across the state.”
If the Board will consider changes to all aspects of sheep hunting seasons across the state, why can’t the public also propose and request changes under the same regulations at the next Statewide meeting in 2016? Why is the only venue for statewide changes a confusing, unclear, option-laden Board-generated proposal that the public can only comment on? That means the Board can only amend their own proposal if they choose to pass any changes.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Board, this just isn’t right. It isn’t fair. You should allow the public to also submit proposals under the same regulations as the Board-generated proposal 208 for the statewide 2016 meeting concerning these sheep issues.
In closing, just like the Board, our organization has been reviewing and digesting the results of Dr. Brinkman’s survey and the updated harvest data supplied by the Department. We greatly appreciate the work of Dr. Brinkman and the Department in helping to provide this new study and information.
We want to point out that the first available option for our organization to submit a new sheep proposal to the Board based on this new information is for the next Statewide 2016 meeting. The Board has clearly stated they want to deal with these sheep issues on a statewide basis. New proposals for the 2016 Statewide meeting are due May 1, 2015, only two weeks away. We urge the Board and Board Support to accept proposals from the public for the 2016 Statewide meeting that fall under Chapter 85.055 and 92.057 of the Alaska Administrative Code.
Chairman – Alaska Backcountry Hunters & Anglers