Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Our Letter to Congress Concerning the Impact of the Government Shutdown on Alaskans


This went out to Congressman Don Young, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and President Obama on Monday, October 7, 2013, in response to the government lockout of guided and nonguided hunters on federal land in Alaska.

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October 7, 2013
Congressman Don Young
2314 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Young,
On behalf of the 9-million-plus sportsmen and women who visit our Alaska hunting and fishing community website (Alaska Outdoors Supersite) annually, we request immediate action to reopen National Wildlife Refuge lands to commercially permitted big game guiding and air and boat transportation services during the government shutdown. As you are aware, the USFWS has suspended all required and legally permitted commercial services, such as big game guiding and air and boat transportation, on Refuge lands during this shutdown. This means that nonresident hunters who drew a coveted Kodak or Unimak Island brown bear hunting tag for hunts that begin October 1st on Refuge lands, who are required to hire a big game guide, are prevented from hunting that tag. Resident hunters who also drew a coveted brown bear tag to hunt on Refuge lands, are denied commercial air or boat transportation services for access to Refuge lands. At this moment, hundreds of hunters, many of whom have been planning these hunts for several years, are stranded, pending the termination of this shutdown. These are just a couple of examples but this impacts hunts and access for all Refuge lands across the state. The impacts to all classes of hunters due to these commercially permitted suspensions of services are unfair and profound. The economic impacts to a wide array of businesses are severe. The ripple effect of the shutdown extends to all recreational users of our lands, including many residents of remote villages who are questioning whether they can even go berry-picking without breaking the law.

These hunts have already been booked, deposits given. Big game guides are already in the field awaiting their clients. Airline and air-taxi and boat transportation services and lodging are reserved, and tickets purchased. We urge you to please contact the Department of the Interior and work to somehow get these Refuge lands reopened during this shutdown of the government. 

Thank you,

Michael Strahan
President, Alaska Outdoors Supersite
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You can read more about this issue in our forums, AT THIS LINK.