Backers of a citizen’s initiative to re-establish the Alaska Coastal Management Program have unleashed a full-court press to collect nearly 26,000 signatures needed to put the measure on this year’s statewide ballot.
Juneau Mayor and initiative sponsor Bruce Botelho got into the act at the Alaskan & Proud supermarket Tuesday afternoon. He says volunteers are mobilized in every corner of the state.
“We’re of course trying to collect the required signatures before the legislature convenes, so that we have a chance to have the 2012 legislature deal with the issue,” says Botelho. “And absent that be able to have it on the ballot in August.”
Initiative sponsors are operating under the Alaska Sea Party moniker. Statewide numbers were not available, but as of Tuesday the group had collected about 10-thousand signatures in Anchorage and 11-hundred in Fairbanks, according to Botelho. He didn’t have a count for Juneau, but said interest has been strong.
Many of the petition gatherers, like Botelho, are local government officials. But he says other groups have stepped forward as well.
“Some Alaska Native organizations, fishing organizations, conservation organizations, and just individual volunteers have said ‘We think this is a good program. We should get it back,’” Botelho says.
The Alaska Coastal Management Program provided one-stop state and federal permit coordination for developers seeking to build along Alaska’s coastline. It closed in July after lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reauthorize it last legislative session. The Parnell administration and House Republicans fought efforts to give local communities more of a voice in the program.