JUNEAU (KTUU) - The first of eight public hearings began, starting in Juneau on Friday, to begin the discussion on a ballot measure which would impact Alaska's salmon industry.
Ballot Measure 1, also known as Salmon Habitat Protections and Permits Initiative, will be on the state-wide ballot in November, and deal with how organizations gain permits for operations which could affect bodies of water related to salmon.
The measure aims to change the permitting process and application system, namely by adding new requirements and procedures before such permits are approved.
The measure was verified after groups involved gathered signatures to get it on the ballot. The measure has both widespread support and widespread opposition.
Click the 360 North livestream below to watch the hearing live:
These hearings are required under law due to judicial statutes. Additional public hearings will be held in other regions across the state:
Juneau on Friday, Sept. 7, 9 a.m.
Kotzebue on Mon., Sept. 10, 1:30 p.m.
Nome on Tues, Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
Anchorage on Tues., Sept. 18, 2 p.m.
Sitka on Fri., Sept. 21, 10 a.m.
Fairbanks on Mon., Sept. 24, 2 p.m.
Bethel on Tues., Sept. 25, 2 p.m.
Dillingham on Sat., Sept. 29, 2 p.m.
Statewide teleconference hearing on Sat., Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.
The measure's language includes:
"This act would amend Alaska’s fish habitat permitting law. The act would require the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to apply new standards to permitting activities and development projects that have the potential to harm fish habitat. The act would exempt existing projects, operations, or facilities that have received all state and federal permits until a new permit is needed. The act would create fish and wildlife habitatprotection standards. The standards would address water quality, temperature, streamflow, and more. The act defines “anadromous fish habitat.” The act would allow ADF&G to apply the law to all habitat in Alaska that directly or indirectly supports salmon or other anadromous fish. The act would provide for three types of permits for development in anadromous fish habitat. ADF&G could issue a general permit—a single permit that applies to many people—for certain activities. For other activities that require a permit, the act would establish a two-track permitting system. Minor permits would be issued for activities that have little impact on fish habitat. Major permits would be issued for projects that have the potential to cause significant adverse effects on fish habitat. The act defines “significant adverse effects.” The act would require ADF&G to avoid or minimize adverse effects through mitigation measures and permit conditions. It would provide public notice on all permits and a chance to comment on major permits. The act would also require ADF&G to deny a permit if, among other things, the proposed activity would cause substantial damage to fish habitat. The act would create criteria, timeframes, and an appeals process for the permits by interested persons. The act would allow ADF&G to respond to specified conduct with tickets, civil fines, or criminal penalties. The act would repeal two current statutes. One is regarding mitigation from a dam. The other is regarding criminal penalties that are addressed elsewhere."