Forums this week on controversial development bill, HB 77

Lisa DemerAlaska Dispatch News

Three public forums on the Parnell administration's controversial bill to strip away some water rights and ease the path for development permits are set for the week of Dec. 9 in Southcentral Alaska.

The first two meetings are being hosted by state Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, who said he heard from hundreds of constituents on the bill, the most on any measure since his election in 2012. He said he wants to see changes to House Bill 77. The measure passed the House this year and is holed up in the Senate Rules Committee, where it went in the last hours of the session when it became obvious it didn't have enough votes to pass the Senate.

The third forum is in Anchorage and is being hosted by outdoors-oriented businesses with questions and concerns about the legislation.

Micciche said in a statement that he is pro-development and thinks the permitting process should be as efficient as possible, but he also wants to ensure that streams still flow "for the abundant fisheries and natural resources we value most -- the quality-of-life reasons many of us live and raise our families in Alaska."

Here are the meeting particulars:

• Monday, Dec. 9, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Soldotna at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers, located at 144 North Binkley St. At 4 p.m., Ed Fogels, deputy natural resources commissioner, and Cora Campbell, fish and game commissioner, will make a presentation. At 5 p.m., a panel of stakeholders will discuss the bill. At 6 p.m., the public can testify.

• Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Homer at the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center on Sterling Highway. The schedule is the same, except Randy Bates, director of the fish and game habitat division, will speak instead of the commissioner.

• Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Alaska Experience Theater at 333 W. Fourth Ave. in downtown Anchorage. DNR is making a presentation at 6 p.m., a panel will discuss the measure at 6:15, and the public can make comments and ask questions starting at 6:30. The businesses sponsoring the event include Alaska Alpine Adventures, Naknek Family Fisheries, Kodiak Treks, Sitka Salmon Shares, Dierick's Tsiu River Lodge and Ashore Water Taxi.

Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.

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