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April 25, 2014

A Disaster for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game

 

By Wade Willis

The appointment of Corey Rossi to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is a first in Alaska’s history. Since statehood, no governor thought it necessary, or responsible, to let politics trump science. Yet Gov. Parnell appears to have little need for science even though he promised to end this culture of back room politics in Alaska.

~Corey Rossi

At the time of his appointment, Rossi was a founding member of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and a statewide spokesman for its sister organization, Sportsmen for Habitat, a group based in Utah and founded by Don Peay.

Don Peay openly bragged in SFW’s fall newsletter that “our members are politically positioned to help SFW,” and Corey Rossi has wasted no time paying back his political debts. He gave out four of the 11 governor’s permits to Don Peay’s organization this year.

As the director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, Rossi has sole discretion in doling out these special hunting tags, called “Governors permits.” It’s one of the benefits of his appointed position. These organizations then “auction” or “raffle” these tags at their national conventions in places like Reno, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City.

One of the recent permits Rossi gave to Don Peay’s group is for a bison hunt located in Wrangell St. Elias National Preserve. This coveted bison tag is virtually impossible for the general public to get. In fact, the Fish and Game advise the public that their odds of receiving this particular draw permit is only two percent each year. In 2010, a total of 22,637 people applied for Alaska bison tags which generated over a quarter million dollars for the Fish and Game in application fees.

The state has its own “auction” outlet in the form of a yearly draws for limited tags. Yet the state must abide by Alaska’s constitution and distribute the tags to the general public fairly and equitably. Why would Gov. Parnell prefer to remove the most coveted tags from the public pool just to allow them to be sold to the highest bidder of a political organization in the Lower 48?

Organizations that “auction” these tags to their rich donors are allowed to keep an unlimited amount of the money collected as “administrative” cost. In addition, the organization can then keep an additional 10 percent to directly fund the activities of the organization. And unlike other laws covering “gaming” activities, such as pull tabs, there is no legislative oversight of the financial records of these organizations. The state just assumes they pay the state what they are owed.

Gov. Parnell is endorsing Corey Rossi to use public assets to enrich political sponsors. This has very little to do with raising funds, which the state could easily do itself. But the most amazing fact is this, the state sends up to four biologists at a time to these conventions to promote the sale of the governor’s permits, consuming the very funds the permits are supposed to be generating for direct wildlife management costs.

Title VIII of Alaska’s constitution guarantees residents equal access to fish and game in Alaska. Giving one person or organization “privileged” access to wildlife is not only illegal, but a founding reason why Alaska became a state in the first place – to keep Alaska’s wildlife in the hands of its residents.

But Rossi has even higher ambitions. Under his leadership, at the January meeting of the Board of Game (Proposal 44), he is asking for the authority to authorize governor’s permits during times of the year when Alaskan’s are not allowed to hunt, say two weeks before the sheep season opens or during the rut for moose. He also wants to have the authority to let the rich hunt anywhere in the state with one tag, to harvest game the same day the hunter has flown, or even to use helicopters. Yes, King Rossi wants it all for his political allies, and both he and Gov. Parnell seem to think that’s just fine, even though our constitution clearly abhors such privileged access to our fish and game.

As predicted, Corey Rossi has been a disaster for Fish and Game. Gov. Parnell is going to have to answer for that.

Wade Willis is a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game employee and is currently the director of the Science Now Project, a public education and advocacy organization. sciencenowproject(at)gmail(dot)com

[Cross-posted at The Homer Tribune]

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20 Responses to “A Disaster for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game”
  1. MITCHELL MEYER says:

    Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game use to be the best Fish and Game. it’s for the people not for just the rich.

  2. electric eye says:

    The best approach is to contact the NPS and USFWS and tell them now way should the ADF&G get to use these tags on federal lands. John Quinley is the NPS john_quinley@nps.gov and Larry Bell is the USFWS larry_bell@fws.gov

    But the most important person to contact is Governor Parnell governor and tell him King Rossi is out of control …

    http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/email-the-governor.html

  3. hedgewytch says:

    Posted this on facebook. I got a lot of hunting and fishing friends. My other half shared it on his. Between the two of us, this should get around to a good bit of the native and rural subsistence hunters in the state.

  4. Mo says:

    Hey! Scott McAdams is forming a political action group, It’s About Alaska. This can only be good news.

    http://www.kinyradio.com/juneaunews/latest_juneau_news.html

    “It’s About Alaska” to target specific elections around the state
    Former Sitka mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Scott McAdams filed paperwork this week with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to start his own political group called It’s About Alaska.

    McAdams talked about the goal behind forming the group, saying their stated purpose is to support candidates who commit to putting Alaska’s people and communities ahead of non-Alaskan special interests.

    He said today, in Alaska, there are too many politicians who want to give a $2 billion oil bonus to CEO’s in London and Houston and they believe that’s not right and he believes that Alaska’s people know it.

    He said It’s About Alaska will work to elect people who know that Alaska’s economy needs new investment, especially in the public works infrastructure, transportation systems and public schools.

    McAdams said a giveaway to outside non-resident millionaires is inappropriate and it’s un-Alaskan. He said they hope through this effort to be very precise in some targeted elections around the state and they may do some independent expenditure messaging campaigning.

    McAdams said because they are an Alaskan political group, 90% of their money has to come from Alaskans. He said what he recognizes and thinks a lot of people know is that there will be millions and millions of outside dollars coming in an attempt to buy elections in 2012 in particular as well as 2014.

    McAdams said this is an effort to counter that tide of outside dollars coming in to influence voters.

    He said there’s a lot of key races all over the state and there’s nothing about the group that forbids them from going in and helping to influence a state House race, helping to influence a state Senate race or even a race for mayor, borough assembly or city council.

    McAdams said they’ll be taking a look all over the state and he can say that they will be supporting candidates who recognize that the people own Alaska and that Alaska’s natural resources belong to the people and need to be developed for their benefit

  5. Moose Pucky says:

    ADF&G is supposed to be working for the people of Alaska, for the fish and wildlife of Alaska. We the people (and the moose) need to make it happen.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Such a lovely idea. Ain’t happen’n here. Need to go back longer that 50 years. If you need a starting place, let us know.

      nem

  6. John says:

    I’m sure it has been in place for a long time, so Parnell can’t take all the blame, but why would we want to give the Governor the power to hand out 11 hunting permits each year to anyone? Why are there 11 people who are above the law and not have to go through the lottery process? I would love to see the public record list of everyone who has received these permits over the last 10 years. It would only be 110 names, so it shouldn’t take the governor’s office more than a year or two to get that list together.

  7. juneaudream says:

    Ok..now that call..has me..head down in the toilet..retching moi socks off! Given that he has made this ‘happen’..wait for next move..sending all citizens of the state..out of state..long enough he can make the state..A private country club..and when people seek to return..they will find ..stewards in uniform..blocking …all entry.

  8. Zyxomma says:

    I am not in the mood for any more bad news.

  9. @hedgewytch: Get a legislator to request a form Attorney General’s opinion as to the legality of Rossi’s actions. Get a legislator who is willing to push if he or she doesn’t get a prompt ruling.

    /WC

    • Pinwheel says:

      Go Federal. Wrangell-St. Elias, for instance, is a National Park. Remember subsistence rights has not yet been settled thru ANILCA. The State of Alaska, controlled as it today, will forever fight against “residence rights to equal access to fish and game in Alaska.”

      Remember “the Divine Right of Kings”. ?? Are we really just disgruntled serfs impotent against the feudal lords of Big Oil and her handmaidens in our legislature. (Remember they used to be the Seven Sisters, now harridans grasping in desperation).

      nem

  10. hedgewytch says:

    Hey Wade! Blowing like crazy in Chenega today.

    Good job calling attention to the Pay for Play Fish & Game Dept. So, what do we do when the Attorney General is also in Parnell’s pocket? If the distribution of these tags are illegal, how do we get it stopped?

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