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Thread: bristol bay refuge/ODC

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    Default bristol bay refuge/ODC

    Wondering if any one has ideas on why the alaska outdoors council would oppose the proposed fisheries refuge on bristol bay tributaries.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Talking ummm...just guessing

    but my guess is they got bought.
    Northern dynasty was paying shills at the AFN convention $1000/day to walk around and say how great the mine was going to be (not that the shill cared about anything more than the money) reckon they can afford to buy the AOC too.
    i mean, c'mon, this is the org that spent members money on a massive mail out trying to explain that the cruise-ship head tax was going to be bad for alaskan sportsmen....that sure never made sense to me, unless they were in the pocket of the cruise ship industry.
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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Mines have the money I mean look at Kensington they got the state to pay for a 60 million dollar road to their mine that will be closed to the public.

    My question is why did the oil companies spend millions of dollars opposing a tax that wouldn't tax them at all if they really did build a gas line?
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    I think HomerDave is spot on here. The deep pocket interests of Oil/Mineral lobbyists.

    Pebble Mine/Northern Dynasty is chomping at the bit to rip into the regoin (How anyone can try to launch a PR campaign that involves the "Largest open pit gold mine in N. America" is beyond me). Sorry, but I can't trust ANY mining company that has the line "Develop and implement the best possible mine plan for the Pebble Project from an environmental, social and economic perspective."...Sorry, my faith in what a company see's as the "best possible plan" went out the window when the Exxon Valdez sat hard aground in flat calm, windless seas for days...and no one had a clue as to what to do...

    http://www.ndmpebblemine.com/

    Perhaps it goes even further than that, if we look at the current debate over opening up a "part" of ANWR for development, we might see AOC's ulterior motives. They don't want to be seen as the "tree hugging greenies" who locked up more of Alaska's "resources" (I happen to be one of those silly people who think our ecological well being, our wildlife, and our lifestyle are far more valuable resources than oil, gold, or copper), and thus inhibited "progress". Althought Dave's point about some well placed "gifts" by lobby groups might certainly have played a major role as well.

    Another angle on this I think is the renewed push for Oil Exploration offshore in 'The Bay' (I mean heck, what the mine can't kill in the spawning beds and rearing areas, lets make sure we finish off once they hit the salt, right?). Just this week Bush & Co. (ya know, the guy with "no special interests in oil companies") announced he is "considering" (translation, the highest bidder gets dibs) lifting the 17 year ban on offshore drilling. Would look kinda bad if that dern liberal media could show maps pointing out that once again we are risking environmental devastation in or near a refuge(s) (If the Refuge was to be created the Bay drilling would be right in between the -proposed- Bristol Bay Tribs Refuge and The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge) in our quest for more Texas Tea, eh?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/04/wa...ef=environment

    I hope AOC pulls their collective heads out of whoevers wallet they have 'em in and does whats best for Alaska's future, and not just the short term, special interests that seem to hold so much sway up here.
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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default i think they are out of touch

    though AOC may have once had goals that were in the interests of the average outdoorsman, i think they have been spending too much time around power and money and not enough outdoors.
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    Moderator David Johnson's Avatar
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    Arrow AOC's response

    Quote Originally Posted by fishon View Post
    Wondering if any one has ideas on why the alaska outdoors council would oppose the proposed fisheries refuge on bristol bay tributaries.
    Here are AOC's comments on this and a related proposal (below). This was posted on the AOC website today.

    David

    RE: Bristol Bay Finfish, December 4th Dillingham Meeting

    Chairman Mel Morris,

    The Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) appreciates the opportunity to provide written comment on proposals being considered by the Board of Fisheries (BOF). AOC is a statewide organization representing 50 outdoor clubs and 2,500 individuals with a combined membership of over 10,000 Alaskans. AOC has advocated for scientific management of natural resources, habitat protection, enforcement of fish and game regulations and public access for the wild food harvest of fish and game since before statehood.

    AOC recommends that the BOF take no action on Proposal #121 to create a fish reserve area or refuge on state-owned waters in the Lower Talarik Creek, Upper Talarik Creek and Koktuli River drainages. The intent of Proposal #121 is to stop resource development on public lands open to mineral extraction, regardless of whether fish stocks in the Bristol Bay drainage will be negatively affected. AOC does not believe this was the intent of the legislature when it passed AS 16.05.251(a)(1) into law.

    AOC is also concerned about the position the board, and future boards, might find themselves in if they act on Proposal #121. Each time a new resource development project is proposed we expect to see a proliferation of such proposals from the various preservationist groups around the state. It is our observation that the board’s time is over allocated now, and the issues before the board are becoming more, not less, complex. By accepting responsibility for approving or rejecting proposals to limit development – industrial, commercial, or residential – the board is assuming an overwhelming workload.

    AOC opposes the creation of a “special citizens advisory committee” proposed for a newly created Lower Talarik Creek, Upper Talarik Creek and Koktuli River fish reserve area or refuge. When the legislature passed AS 16.05.260. creating advisory committees they clearly stated their intent that fish and game advisory committees (AC) “be composed of persons well informed on the fish or game resources of the locality”. The Boards of Fisheries and Game echoed this intent when they adopted 5 AAC 96.010. AC’s were “to provide a local forum for the collection and expression of opinions”. AOC opposes any BOF action that would dilute the F&G Advisory Committee system currently in place in the Bristol Bay area, or anywhere else in the state. We believe that the “special committee” envisioned in Proposal #121 would at least dilute, and at worst conflict with, the local AC.

    AOC would also oppose the use of F&G Funds for any “annual assessment of issues” on the proposed Lower Talarik Creek, Upper Talarik Creek and Koktuli River fish reserve area or refuge conducted by the newly formed “special citizens advisory committee”. Assessing the effects of resource development on fish stocks and the habitat on which fish stocks are dependent is the job of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. If current statutes and BOF regulations do not allow for the adequate assessment of fish conservation and adherence to the sustained yield principle enshrined in Article VIII. Section 4. of the State Constitution then actions to address these shortcomings are needed statewide, not just in the Bristol Bay area.

    AOC is prepared to work with the BOF and the Alaska legislature to assure that non-renewable resource development does not negatively affect the long term sustainability of Alaska’s fisheries whether in Bristol Bay or other drainages statewide. The board should continue to rely on the regulatory process currently in place and take no action on Proposal #121.


    Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony on AOC’s behalf.


    Rod Arno, Executive Director
    Alaska Outdoor Council
    Fax: (907) 376-7197
    Last edited by David Johnson; 12-04-2006 at 12:53. Reason: Additional information
    David M Johnson
    Anchorage, Alaska
    http://awildolivebranch.blogspot.com

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default AOC's comments on refuge designation

    David,

    Mucho thanks for posting that.

    Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers also sent in comments, which can be viewed here:
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters....y%20refuge.pdf

    We supported #121 and refuge designation.
    This would not prevent Pebble Mine from going in, but it would make them meet more stringent guidelines to protect the world-class fisheries resource.

    One of the reasons AOC opposes refuge designation is because they fear it will set a precedent, and because they don't believe that Alaska Statute AS 16.05.251 (a)(1) was intended to do such a thing. Here is a link to that Statute:

    http://www.touchngo.com/lglcntr/akst...section251.htm

    Here is the verbatim quote of that particular statute:
    "setting apart fish reserve areas, refuges, and sanctuaries in the waters of the state over which it has jurisdiction, subject to the approval of the legislature;"

    The Board of Fisheries was given the right to adopt refuges in order to protect fisheries resources. That was the intent of the legislature in granting BOF that right. AOC is claiming that this proposal is to stop resource development, and hence this proposal to designate a refuge area does not meet the intent of the statute. I suppose that argument is really six of one, half-dozen of another. I mean, say you knew that plans were under way to develop one of the largest open pit mines in America in the heart of the Bristol Bay fisheries. Is a proposal to adopt a refuge in order to protect the fisheries one that is designed to protect the fisheries, or one that is designed to stop the mine?

    AOC, in their comments to the BOF opposing this proposal, also state that they oppose the use of any F&G funds to go to a new "annual assessment of issues," and that the job of assessing the dangers of development like Pebble Mine to fisheries and habitat is already the job of ADFG. That's also interesting, in that under Murkowski the habitat division of ADFG was removed and placed in DNR, which also under Murkowski has been fast-tracking all sorts of mining and oil and gas development on our public lands and in our waters. ADFG habitat divison has been left out of the picture entirely. This is, imo, very dangerous to the future health of our fisheries and wildlife, and now, more than ever, we need to really look closely at the possible effects Pebble Mine would have on the resource, even if it takes F&G funds to do so.

    Frankly, I don't understand AOC's opposition to this proposal. The Bristol Bay area is certainly special; it's Alaska at its best. We don't want to see it ruined. So it's sad to see AOC oppose protecting it, and to not recognize how valuable the area is to a wide array of hunting and fishing and subsistence activities. I can't help but feel that they are out of lockstep now with a lot of Alaskan hunters and anglers. Of all the places they should want to protect, I'd have thought this would be it.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Thumbs up this is not a new idea, either

    there have been a few proposals to protect the bristol bay watershed by giving it a refuge or critical habitat designation. it is a shame that those proposals were not implemented when they came up.
    now it seems that this proposal has just come about because of pebble and NDM, when actually this is an old idea whose time has come.
    also noteworthy is the fact that though this proposal is specific to a few rivers, when the AC's in favor of 121 weighed in thay also recommended that consideration be given to encompassing a greater area as refuge, something that would protect the game as well as the fish habitat.
    these proposals are NOT to protect the fish and animals themselves, and no limitation of current hunting and fishing would be implemented by the refuge designation.
    this is a habitat protection issue.
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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    homerdave's signature says it all look at the following areas that were decimated by mines and dams: Ressurection Creek, Ship Creek, All of California, Most of Washington. So do we want to start our rivers down the path of the columbia? I say nope.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  10. #10

    Default Habitat Protection Laws

    I'm glad to read Richards doesn't want to see the area drained by the Upper/Lower Talarik Creek and Koktuli Creek ruined. Having guided both hunters and anglers there in the 80's I know what a beautiful place it is. Although I wouldn't be so presumptuous to say it's anymore special then other areas open to mineral exploreation across the state that I've had the fortune to guide in over the last 40 years.

    If Richards feels current habitat protection laws are not adequate to accommodate non-renewable resource development on state lands without harming fish stocks and wildlife populations I would suggest he send his comments in to the newly elected governor's transition teams.
    If resource development permitting under DNR won't protect the habitat then ask Governor Palin to fix the problem statewide.

    Will reinstating the Habitat Division under ADF&G save the fish in the Bristol Bay area from mining operations? Or does the legislature need to pass stonger habitat protection laws? Or do the current laws to protect the susitainablity of fish stocks and wildlife populations need strengthened?

    These are the questions the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) would like to address, not waste the Board of Fisheries time blocking mineral resource development across Alaska project by project.

  11. #11
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Arno
    Will reinstating the Habitat Division under ADF&G save the fish in the Bristol Bay area from mining operations? Or does the legislature need to pass stonger habitat protection laws? Or do the current laws to protect the susitainablity of fish stocks and wildlife populations need strengthened? These are the questions the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) would like to address, not waste the Board of Fisheries time blocking mineral resource development across Alaska project by project.
    Hi Rod,

    All those questions you brought up also beg answers. Does AOC support reinstating the habitat division within ADFG? Does AOC believe we need more stringent habitat protection laws? You are saying these are the questions AOC is concerned with. I'd like to hear AOC's answers to those questions...how about it?

    Proposals for refuge designation to protect fisheries resources have come up before. It is part and parcel of what the BOF hears as a part of its mandated existence. Yet you are saying that proposals that fall under this statute, that ask for refuge designation to be granted, are a "waste of time" for the Board.

    I don't see this as a waste of the Board's time at all. These are exactly the types of issues the Board needs to hear and discuss, and indeed that's why the legislature granted the Board the right and opportunity to hear these types of proposals. AOC is painting this proposal as a subterfuge to "block" Pebble Mine. The truth is that it is a proposal to protect the fisheries resources. And the further truth is that even if this proposal were to pass a majority vote of the BOF, it would still take a vote of the legislature to pass it into law.

    I'd sure like to find some common ground here, Rod. Be interested in hearing your answers to the questions I raised. If AOC's opposition to this proposal is really just about "principle," as you are making it out to be, yet AOC is truly concerned that we may need more safeguards to protect the Bristol Bay watersheds in question, then maybe we could discuss how to go about providing those safeguards and work together to achieve those ends, rather than be forced to oppose each other. I'm game if you are. And I'm sincere.
    Allbest,

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    Lower Talarik Creek is widely recognized as a world class trout fishery. It is literally an irreplaceable resource that ADF&G, the BOF and national conservation groups have taken steps to protect and preserve. It's troubling to hear Rod Arno say that LTC is unremarkable and no different than lots of other places he has guided. Troubling, but not unexpected from an oragnization that supported the last governer including his efforts to gut the state's ability to protect habitat from unwise resource development. Arno recently stated that Murkowski did everything he said he would do for AOC. That sort of cronyism with the wildly unpopular and ineffective Murkowski administration shows that AOC is more focused on furthering a certain political agenda than working in the best interest of Alaskan "outdoorsmen".

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    Unhappy Bristol Bay refuge

    Just to add to the discussion the reason fisherman want a refuge is that Talarik Creeks and Koktuli do not exist in isolation. They are headwaters of and connected to the entire Bristol Bay Watershed and since we are talking about massive quanities of chemicals and discharge here any damage to them would spread to the entire watershed damaging the entire region. Dont let anyone talk about those rivers in isolation. Anyone saying that the Bristol Bay watershed is not the best fishery in the world and doesnt deserve special protection would quickly lose credibility.

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    Default AOC out of touch here

    I have a number of negative feelings about AOC for a variety of reasons.

    However, it is obvious to me that the Board of Fish is a good starting point for this discussion and why AOC would oppose based on the findings above make no sense.

    Relative to habitat issues the Board of Fish has been very remiss in taking on this responsibility. They should embrace habitat issues not run from them.

    Relative to the AOC time arguement relative to the Board of Fish that is a red herring. The Board of Fish and Game waste hundreds of hours on allocation issues and refuses to streamline their process to be more efficient. If habitat issues do not take a priority over allocation then the State resources are doomed.

    One other thing is obvious. If those state agencies responsible for protecting habitat and resources do not stand up for them we will go the way of other states. The history in this state, as demostrated by the moving of habitat division to DNR, is to make resources a secondary priority relative to development.

    So AOC is off base on this one. I do not want to put motives to their position but just to state that for an outdoor organization they sure look bad.

    I can just see myself fishing in the toxic lake and hunting the rim of the biggest hole in Alaska. Maybe AOC should rethink their position - you think?

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    Thumbs down Special interests rule?

    A former state legislator told me that the single biggest reason Alaska was unable to settle the rural preference issue was Alaska Outdoor Council's political muscle, which prevented the question being put to a vote of the Alaskan people. Twice on these forums I asked Mr. Arno whether he'd be willing yet to put the question to a vote, and twice Mr. Arno has declined to say yes or no.

    For that reason and a couple more, I don't trust Alaska Outdoor Council to support what's best for Alaskans and our resources. AOC is, in my mind, just another front for special interests.


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    Default Question for Rod Arno

    Not sure if this is true but today someone told me that the mining company came to the Kenai River Classic and made a donation to Kenai River Sport Fishing Association - . Now if that is true then they are buying influence as I am sure they do not care about the Kenai and of course Uncle Ted and Mr. Penny are political heavy weigths. Ted has said that he uses his position to gain money for the Classic by selling his time - see ADN article a few years back on why defense contractors visit the classic.

    To put everything to rest on motives did AOC ever receive any money from the mining company? Just a question not anything more than that -

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default bump...hey Rod, you out there?

    Rod, wondering if you care to answer the questions I raised. I know you have a busy schedule, and perhaps you've been away. Thanks,
    Mark

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