The state has a chance to protect anglers’ access to fishing streams under a bill that unanimously passed the Senate today. The bill by Anchorage Democrat Les Gara passed the House last year with no opposition.
Gara says that some of the state’s prime fishing locations – such as the Salcha River and the Anchor River – have several miles of shoreline that, when they are developed, will keep the public out. The bill requires the Departments of Fish and Game and Natural Resources to inventory streams and rivers and – although the bill does not provide any money for the project – it opens the option of purchasing rights of way to them.
Anchorage Democrat Bill Wielechowski says the goal is to assure the public’s legal access to the streams.
“As more and more land gets developed, we as citizens are going to lose public access. This bill encourages the Department of Natural Resources to look at those places where the public could lose access and seek low-cost easement purchases before those lands are developed rather than after when they become very expensive to buy,” Wielechowski said.
And Anchorage Republican Lesil McGuire said it serves a good purpose – and avoids the state using its powers of eminent domain in the future.
“It forces the department to be proactive and to really think about access for our citizens to these areas along the streams where we want to enjoy this really important quality of our life,” McGuire said.
The bill next goes to the Governor’s for his action on it.