House Bill 144 Moves Out of Committee
Today Representative Les Gara’s legislation to ensure future public access to Alaska’s fishing streams, House Bill 144, moved from the Senate Resources Committee. The bill passed the House last year with a vote of 38 Yeas, and tonight passed the Senate Resources Committee.
“We hope the next step is a vote on the Senate Floor, and believe the bill has the support to pass,” said Rep. Les Gara. House Bill 144 will inexpensively promote access to important fishing streams by encouraging voluntary land trades or purchases with willing landowners.
“In other states people have lost public access to prized fishing streams, or have to pay large amounts of money to fish those waters. By working cooperatively with interested landowners now, we can make sure Alaskans have access to our great fishing waters for generations to come,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage).
In some states significant public access has already been lost. For example, in Montana public access is greatly impeded along the Ruby River, a noted trout stream, as well as along 180 miles of the Missouri River. Montana is known for waters that cannot be accessed unless large fees are paid to lodge owners or ranchers.
“As we have seen recently in several western States, stream access cannot be taken for granted. Annual reporting by DNR on Alaska stream access will go a long ways in assuring stream access for future generations,” said Mark Huber, President of the Alaska Fly Fishers Association.
House Bill 144 is supported by the Alaska Fly Fishers Association, the Alaska Sportfishing Association, and the Kenai River Sportfish Association.