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Alaska Coastal Zone Management initiative gains momentum

Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Federation of Natives delegates voted unanimously Saturday to endorse a citizens initiative proposed earlier this month that aims to revive Alaska’s defunct coastal management plan.

It’s welcome news to Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, a former state attorney general who’s formed a coalition with other municipal and state officials to bring coastal management to the ballot box if the Alaska Legislature fails to act first.

Botelho was joined Oct. 10 by Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby and Mako Haggerty, a Kenai Peninsula Borough assemblyman, in announcing a Coastal Zone Management initiative that could be on the August 2012 primary ballot or November 2012 General Election ballot.

Coastal management proved one of the most divisive issues of the Legislature this year, and attempts to save the program in special session failed. Alaska is the only coastal state without a federal coastal management plan. The program is designed to guarantee state and local participation in federal decision making on coastal issues.

In support of the initiative, outgoing North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta said via press release that big resource development projects typically happen in rural Alaska – with the general support of rural Alaskans.

“Coastal management never stopped a project in the past. It just gave communities a stake in the project. What’s not to like about that?” Itta said.

Botelho said Alaskans living along coasts were at risk without a plan and were “tired of the political bickering that killed the program.”