Hydaburg Mayor Anthony Christianson has been appointed the new chair of the Federal Subsistence Board.
The board governs subsistence hunting and fishing on all federal land in Alaska, covering some 60 percent of the state. It’s been at the center of major controversies like the fight over king salmon on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers.
Christianson has served on the board for four years. He says as chairman, his job will be to listen to everyone.
“I like to keep an open ear, and listen to what everybody has to say. It’s almost like listening to testimony,” Christianson said. “You’ve got to go in, you’ve got to be really unbiased.”
The Interior Department announced Christianson’s appointment on Tuesday. At 40, he’s been mayor of Hydaburg, on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, for more than a decade. He’s run the environmental program at the local tribe, the Hydaburg Cooperative Association, for almost twenty years.
Christianson was first appointed to the subsistence board in 2012, when the Interior Department overhauled the board — adding two seats for members of the public to give rural residents more of a say. Previously, the board was made up exclusively of representatives from federal agencies.
Christianson said listening to local residents is essential. He wants to elevate the role of the Regional Advisory Councils, made up of local community members. And, he said, his own experience hunting and fishing has shaped how he views the board’s mission.
“Being a [subsistence] user, eating it every day, handing that tradition down to my family, and showing them why it’s important that we have strong environmental programs, that we have regulations, that we have management plans, to protect the way of life for ourselves, I think is critical to the future of Alaska,” he said.
Christianson is replacing Tim Towarak of Unalakleet, who stepped down in September.