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Alaska Beat

Alaskans want salmon habitat protected, survey says

A new poll by the Alaska chapter of The Nature Conservancy of some 500 registered voters shows overwhelming statewide support for policies protecting salmon habitat across the state.

Ninety-six percent of Alaskans surveyed said salmon are essential to the Alaskan way of life, and 97 percent said salmon are an important part of the Alaska economy, according to results of the poll released today.

Statewide, 89 percent of Alaskans said that even in tough economic times, it is important to maintain funding for salmon conservation.

"Alaskans' connection to salmon is even stronger than we realized," said Randy Hagenstein, director of The Nature Conservancy in Alaska. "Across the board, Alaskans truly understand the kind of habitat salmon need, and they support the investment necessary to keep that habitat healthy,"

Survey results also showed four of every five Alaskans are personally concerned about the health and abundance of salmon in Alaska.

The Nature Conservancy, a non-profti conservation group in Alaska, leads salmon habitat projects in Bristol Bay, the Matanuska-Susitna Basin, and the Tongass National Forest regions in Alaska. These poll results show conservation projects that keep salmon populations and salmon habitat healthy enjoy considerable support among a broad cross-section of the state's population.

"These poll numbers show that Alaskans view salmon as an icon that defines us as a state," said Mark Kaelke, Southeast Alaska project director for Trout Unlimited.

"One third of all salmon harvested in Alaska comes from the Tongass National Forest. The poll shows the overwhelming majority of residents here understand healthy rivers and streams are key to salmon abundance and they support lawmakers who continue to make salmon protection a priority.

This is definitely something our elected officials need to understand and put into action."

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