Doyon Urges a No on Ballot Measure 1 in November
Voters in Alaska will be asked to vote on a reform of Alaska’s Title 16 provision on November 6. The ballot measure, known as Stand for Salmon, reforms the process to permit natural resource and community development projects impacting anadromous fish habitat.
The current fish habitat permitting process is largely flexible and reliant on good biology. The process draws on the knowledge of field biologists to make sound decisions regarding habitat protection. The current system also allows for flexibility in permitting in order to protect resources on a project-specific and a stream-specific basis.
The proposed ballot measure would eliminate the scientific data requirement to specify anadromous habitat in regulation via the Anadromous Water Catalog, and replaces this with a statewide assumption that all habitats are important anadromous fish habitat.
While the intention of the ballot measure is to further protect fish habitat, there are serious unintended consequences for Alaska, the economy and for the development of projects that need to be permitted.
Negative impacts to rural infrastructure is one reason Doyon supports Stand for Alaska – Vote No on 1. If the ballot measure passes, the cost of infrastructure projects in rural Alaska will dramatically increase. Roads, transportation projects and airport development projects will be negatively impacted, and waste water treatment projects will be called into question. In the Doyon region, projects like the safety upgrades to the Taylor Highway at Eagle will depend on new and unknown regulatory standards, and improvements to the airport access roads in Nulato and Shagaluk would likely be further delayed.
The ballot measure also will have negative impacts to regional and village corporations. Doyon and Interior village corporations benefit from the development of natural resources by regional Native corporations through 7i and 7j payments, as directed by ANCSA. For example, NANA’s Red Dog Mine has been in operation since 1989, and since mining has begun, NANA has distributed over $820 million to other regional and village corporations.
In 2017 alone, natural resource development on Native lands led to the sharing of over $230 million in revenues with regional and village corporations. These shared revenues from natural resource development would face uncertainty, as the grandfather clause written into the ballot measure is only in place, “until expiration or termination of the user’s permit, authorization, license, or approval.” This clauses leaves the continuation of these long-standing projects to an uncertain future.
Doyon believes the intention of the Stand for Salmon ballot measure is to protect fish habitat, but the unintended consequences lead Doyon to urge a no vote. The certainty provided by the current process protects fish habitat, and allows the use and development of ANCSA resources with habitat protections, and a no vote would retain this process.