Federal Subsistence Board May Gain Larger Rural Voice

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The Interior Department wants to add two members who will represent rural interests to the Federal Subsistence Board. The board oversees subsistence fishing and hunting on federal public lands in Alaska. The chair has always been an Alaska Native, and the five other seats represent the federal land management agencies in Alaska and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Polly Wheeler is deputy assistant regional director for the office of subsistence management. She says rural subsistence users who weighed in on a review of the federal program in 2010 wanted a louder voice on the board.

Wheeler says rural subsistence users are already represented on ten regional advisory councils. She says their influence in the process won’t change if two new members are added to the board.

Wheeler is expecting to field a lot of comments on the proposal. The public comment period is open until April 12. The board will then make a recommendation on the issue, but it’s up to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to make the final decision.

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