Controversial ‘Stand for Salmon’ Initiative Would Cripple Industries and Threaten Future Community and Resource Development Projects
Across Alaska, residents will soon be confronted by signature-gatherers asking them to sign a controversial new ballot initiative that claims to “Stand for Salmon.” As with all issues of this magnitude, CIRI urges its shareholders to learn more about this topic before signing.
In July, the ANCSA Regional Association, an organization representing the 12 land-based Alaska Native regional corporations formed pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), voted unanimously to oppose the initiative. In its letter of opposition, the organization stated, “This initiative, if passed, will prevent us from developing the resources that we received under ANCSA and destroy our ability to create a sustainable socioeconomic future for Alaska Native people.” At a recent meeting, the CIRI Board of Directors also voted to oppose the initiative.
CIRI has long supported environmental standards that protect the state’s salmon resources. All projects on CIRI land must co-exist with the fish and wildlife upon which many of our shareholders and their families depend. Additionally, over the years, CIRI has supported and provided assistance to others working to restore and maintain salmon habitat within the region, including the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and Tyonek Tribal Conservation District.
“It is imperative that all Alaskans, including CIRI shareholders, know that we do many things to ‘Stand for Salmon,’” said CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich. “This initiative, however, sends a dangerous message that the current science-based regulatory environment does not put salmon first. Shutting down community and economic development opportunities is a disproportionate response to a problem that does not exist.”
The initiative (technical title: 17FSH2) was initially rejected by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott following guidance from the Alaska attorney general, after which sponsors appealed the ruling and the Superior Court overruled the lieutenant governor and asked signature booklets to be prepared in time for the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. Signature-gatherers will have until the start of the legislative session in January to collect sufficient signatures to place this issue on the 2018 ballot.
The initiative, if it becomes law through a vote of the people, would threaten the interests of Alaska Native people by imposing unattainable protection standards on community and resource development projects. Further, it would directly impact projects that pay (or will pay) 7(i) revenues to CIRI – a portion of which are divided between CIRI and the village corporations and at-large shareholders in its region – including the Red Dog Mine, Alpine oilfield, the proposed Donlin mine and timber harvesting.