More than thirty years ago the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources discussed federal legislation affecting how wildlife is managed in Alaska. On Thursday, they took them up again.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act or ANILCA and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act or ANCSA include federal protections for rural Alaska.
Decades after being signed into law, interested parties discussed how effective the legislation has been at protecting the people who depend on subsistence practices. “In most cases when it comes to meeting the necessities of life, the federal agencies have forgotten the promises made under these laws,” said Craig Fleener with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
ANILCA includes language giving subsistence users preference over the state’s natural resources, a provision at odds with Alaska’s constitution which says it’s resources belong to all people equally.
"It really is a human rights issue, it's a food security issue and we need to.... there's a reason why Title VIII of ANILCA has rural preference in place,” said Ana Hoffman with the Bethel Native Corporation.
As federal legislation was reviewed, subsistence users worked to educate lawmakers on the importance of wildlife in Alaska and that access to it remains protected.