Historic Campaign Changes Conversation around Wild Alaska Salmon

Published November 8, 2018

ANCHORAGE  — On Tuesday, tens of thousands of Alaskans raised their voices to protect wild salmon and the rivers they call home. While Ballot Measure 1 did not garner enough votes to pass, Alaskans across political and geographic boundaries united in support of stronger salmon habitat protections through the ballot initiative.

“Despite being outspent by a corporate misinformation campaign, Alaskans showed up in droves today to vote yes on Ballot Measure 1. That is a victory in and of itself,” said Gayla Hoseth, Ballot Measure 1 sponsor and second chief of the Curyung Tribal Council. “We are in the midst of a new era where Alaskans are ready to see stronger salmon protections and more responsible development in our state.”

In contrast to an opposition that raised nearly $13 million – primarily from large mining and oil companies – Stand for Salmon was a true grassroots effort powered by Alaskans from Kaktovik to Ketchikan who are passionate about salmon. Over the last year, Stand for Salmon had more than 62,000 conversations with Alaskans about the initiative and was supported by a network of over 500 volunteers who spent countless hours pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, making calls and talking with Alaskans. More than 1,830 Alaskan donors helped support the campaign and over 400 Alaska businesses and organizations signed on to endorse the ballot measure.

“Alaskans no longer take our world-class salmon streams and rivers for granted,” said Mike Wood, Ballot Measure 1 sponsor and a setnet fisherman in Cook Inlet. “This groundswell of Alaskans who want to improve the way we protect our salmon isn’t going away and will only grow stronger over time.”

“Through our conversations throughout this campaign, it’s been clear to us that all Alaskans are connected to salmon and want to do more to protect the last wild salmon runs in the country,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, Ballot Measure 1 sponsor and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “We will continue to fight for stronger protections that hold large scale development accountable and that ensure wild Alaska salmon will be around for generations.”

Ballot Measure 1 proposed updates to Alaska’s law guiding development in salmon habitat. The law has not been updated since it was drafted at statehood 61 years ago, even as Alaska’s population has tripled and the state has seen significant growth. If passed, the measure would have implemented scientific standards defining what healthy habitat is for salmon, and would have given local communities a voice in development decisions that would impact the salmon habitat in their own backyards.

“Despite the outcome today, we have been successful in changing the conversation about salmon and salmon habitat for the better,” said Ryan Schryver, Director of Stand for Salmon. “Even if Alaskans didn’t see this specific language as the solution, it’s clear we need to update our laws and use modern science to adapt to the increasingly large threats to our salmon populations.”

“Change is hard, especially when you are up against some powerful, politically connected and deep- pocketed interests,” he added. “But Stand for Salmon existed before Ballot Measure 1 and will continue after the ballot campaign. We are committed to pushing the conversation about salmon habitat forward and working for positive change. We will continue to explore all avenues to ensure that Alaska’s great salmon streams are properly protected.”

Stand for Salmon is a diverse group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses and organizations united in taking immediate steps to ensure that Alaska remains the nation’s salmon state for generations to come. Learn more at www.standforsalmon.org.

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