Officials Ponder Coastal Zone Management Program Successor

The doors are now locked on the state’s Coastal Management Program.   That’s the bottom line result of the legislature and governor’s action last week in not extending it.

Now officials are wondering what it will take to reconstruct a new program to fit into the federal system.

Kotzebue’s Reggie Joule, a Democrat who’s a member of the majority caucus,  began answering that question during a meeting last week of the House Finance Committee.

Joule referred to issues such as endangered species, critical habitat, and wild lands in which the state routinely challenges the federal government.  He says the state action is to clear the way for development.  Joule agrees with the administration’s idea that Alaska can still voice its opinion on coastal matters, but he says it won’t be with the same authority that the Coastal Management Program carries.

Attorney General John Burns was at the committee’s witness table while Joule made his comments. In reply, Burns recognized Joule’s look at the future of the program – saying he, too, is concerned about the polarizing effect of putting the Program away.   But Burns says he sees an opportunity to rebuild a system that will work.

Joule told the committee that he is concerned about Alaska losing its reputation in all resource development management questions – especially when it is seen as not being able to manage its coastal issues.

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