Participating in the management of Alaska’s resources is a tradition for residents. Citizens are able to write proposals that can directly affect who fishes or hunts for what and when. The deadline for Board of Game proposals is May 1, and Homer Fish and Game Advisory Council Chair Dave Lyon has a few tips to get your ideas heard.
“There are a lot of things happening all over the state, fish resources, game resources, fish and game management; people need to be involved,” Lyon said.
Lyon said the proposal outline that’s provided on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website starts out simply. What’s the issue that needs to be addressed and then explain things like who will benefit and who will be negatively affected?
“One of the important things to do is to be very realistic when you approach those two questions, and not to be glib, or snarky, or sarcastic, which is very often the case. That’s not going to get you anywhere with the board,” he said.
You’ll need to harken back to your old high school English lessons and write clearly and concisely. Get your point across. Lyon referred to the written proposal as the “Cliffs Notes” of your idea. The real punch comes in when you back up your plan at the Board of Game meeting itself. Lyon said another approach is to get the support of your local advisory council office.
He pointed out there are challenges with this process such as writing a proposal, but then the science you based it on is totally outdated by the time it’s heard.
“Right now we have a proposal deadline of May 1 at 5 p.m. for proposals to be considered at the Board of Game meeting for this region in March of next year. So we’re so far ahead of the cycle of biological research and data gathering that you may find yourself writing a proposal that once this year’s data is in it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
But Lyon said don’t let that stop you. For example, if a resource is declining, it might still be in the same or worse position a year from now. On the flip side, if something improves, it’s better to have that idea in the suggestion box than not.
So once you have your proposal written and submitted, it has to pass muster with the Department of Fish and Game before it moves to the board. The department also decides if it’s a biological issue, which is when they get to weigh in, or an allocation issue, which is strictly up to the board.
“The board can also amend your proposal after everybody has had their say… at that point your input is over. After that there’s no telling what could happen,” he said.
This is why it’s important to be as clear and concise as possible when you’ve written your proposal and also defending it. Otherwise, your intent could get lost in the shuffle. And Lyon said remember the advisory councils are there to help craft your message.
“I’d be happy to talk to them about any proposal ideas if it’s a proposal that’s come up a whole lot of times and failed. I’d be happy to tell you why it’s never got any traction.”
Lyon also stressed the need for civility in this whole process. How you come off when you write and defend your idea can play into its overall success. He said it’s important to understand that Alaska is an “owner state” and the resources are here for everyone; not just for those with similar opinions.
“You’re not going to ban trapping. You’re not going to ban hunting. These are Alaskan things that are going to happen, but as the state grows and becomes more crowded and there’s more user conflicts, there has to be more ability of all the users to reach consensus in how areas will be managed,” Lyon said.
The online proposal form is on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. All submissions are due by 5 p.m. May 1 for consideration at the next Board of Game meeting.