Alaska’s tribes are setting up a new system to give them a say over salmon.
On May 8, Twenty-eight tribes created the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The people of the Kuskokwim River are no longer satisfied with serving in an advisory role to state and fishery managers,” says a news release from the new commission. “The message, Kuskokwim River tribes and rural residents desire a “meaningful role” in the management of fish and wildlife as it is expressed by Congress in section 801 (5) of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act, a role that until now most Western Alaskans agree has been meaningless.”
I am convinced that co-management works. In Washington, Oregon and in Idaho there are salmon streams that would have gone extinct without a broader, more comprehensive management approach. Even small tribes hire people to work on habitat restoration or protecting baby salmon from predators. And it’s hard to understate the importance of creating natural resource jobs because it gives Native people a new purpose, working on the land to improve wildlife.