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Winter Has Arrived Action Alert: Legislative Priorities


Wow! Winter is officially here. 


While you are still digging out from the most recent round of snow, we hope that you are thinking about some of the fun that this flurry of white stuff can bring. Soon, ski trails will be groomed, snow machining will be picking up, and mushing trails will be filled with dog teams.Others are dreaming about more tranquil pursuits inside by the fire.


No matter your winter activity of choice, those that live in the Susitna watershed are tied to the seasons. The SRC staff schedule is also tied to different seasons. We are currently gearing up for another great winter speaker series, a busy legislative session, and MEA elections. 


Enjoy the snowier days in the watershed, and we look forward to staying in touch throughout the busy holiday season!

 

West Susitna Industrial Corridor Updates

 

ACTION NEEDED:

West Susitna Industrial Corridor in the 






Recently, the Mat-Su Borough released it's list of 2024 State and Federal Legislative Priorities. Included on the State Priorities is the continued support of the West Susitna Industrial Corridor. 


Despite the repeated outspoken opposition by its constituents, it is shocking that the Borough Assembly is now voicing support of this bad project.


In AIDEA public meetings, the public has voiced overwhelming opposition and repeatedly asked good questions that AIDEA could not answer. During Mat-Su Borough public outreach in 2022, 75-80% of the public was opposed. During the DOT draft STIP plan of September 2023, 87% of individuals in the online comments were opposed. The Fish and Wildlife Commission has also voiced strong concerns. In addition, the Borough Assembly itself has never voted in support of the project, only in support of learning more. The prior Mat-Su Borough Mayor, Vern Halter, spoke out in strong opposition to the project citing AIDEA’s terrible track record in the Mat-Su Valley.



Or, craft your own statement using these talking points


Please send your comments in by 12PM on November 21st 2023.

 

DOT draft STIP plan Update


In late July, the DOT introduced the state's draft STIP plan for 2024-2027.


A surprise inclusion in this draft plan was the first 15 miles of the West Susitna Industrial Access Corridor and bridge across the Big Su. The total cost of this project is currently estimated at $82.5 million for the state of Alaska.


The comment period for the DOT draft STIP plan ended in September. The SRC was able to acquire the comments through a public records request. 


There were 1004 online comments. 398 were related to West Susitna. Of those, 54 supported the project and 344 opposed it. That resulted in 13% in favor and 87% opposed to the project. 


It is unclear what the next step in the DOT draft STIP process is, but we will keep you informed as the story unfolds.

 

2024 Mat Su Borough Legislative Priorities

As the Mat-Su Borough hones in on its priorities for the coming year, the public should weigh in as to which items are in line with the future that they hope to see for their communities. 


While we applaud the Borough for improving and allocating resources to important issues such as fisheries protection, other priorities, like the West Susitna Industrial Corridor, have garnered robust public opposition over the years. 


The Borough Assembly should prioritize the desires of its constituents as it evaluates the Resolution of State and Federal Legislative Priorities.


The Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be holding a vote on the 2024 State and Federal Legislative Priorities on November 21st, 2023 at 6PM. 


See the Assembly Meeting Agenda here.

Read RS 23-104 , the State Legislative Priorities, here.  

Read RS 23-105, the Federal Legislative Priorities, here.


Public testimony will be accepted. Written Testimony will be accepted until 12PM on November 21st, 2023. 


See our tips and tricks for testimony here, and learn more about the issues below.


In Opposition: West Susitna Industrial Corridor: State Legislative Priorities, RS 23-104, Item C


The West Susitna Industrial Corridor is a proposed 100+ mile mining road that would cost the state, at a minimum, $450 million and alter the Western Susitna Basin forever. Learn more about the West Susitna Industrial Corridor here.


The SRC is strongly opposed to the Mat Su Borough supporting this project that Borough constituents have repeatedly voiced overwhelming opposition to. There are also many economic, ecological, and cultural reasons why this road project should not be pursued. 



Taking action using the above link takes less than a minute. 


Or, you can utilize these talking points to create your own message for the Mat-Su Borough Assembly. 


Please send your written comments in by 12PM on November 21st.


In Support: Fishery Management:

State Legislative Priorities, RS 23-104, Item N


Commercial, subsistence, and recreational fisheries are important both to the Mat-Su Borough economy and to livelihoods in the Susitna Watershed and broader Borough. 


The SRC is in support of enhanced fisheries management that increases our understanding of salmon populations in Borough waterways.


In Support: Fishery Protection- $2.5 Million:

State Legislative Priorities, RS 23-104, Item 8


As data gaps are identified in our Mat-Su Borough waterways and Cook Inlet, emphasis should be placed on filling these data gaps and problem solving with the resulting knowledge. Culvert replacement, weirs, stock analysis, economic impacts, and invasive species should all remain high priority to a holistic understanding of our Borough fisheries. 


The SRC is in support of utilizing funding to further these programs.


In Support: Fish Passage- $1 million

Federal Legislative Priorities, RS 23-105, Item 7


Adequate fish passage supports healthy fisheries in the Mat-Su borough. Modern culverts are integral to allowing fish to access their natal streams and proliferate to their fullest extent. 


The SRC is in support of supporting funding allocation towards fish passage.

 

Upcoming Events

 

Mat Su Borough Waterbody Setback Advisory Board Thursday, December 14th, at 6PM





Since December, we have been following the potential repeal of the Mat-Su Borough Riparian Setback Ordinance. The Susitna River Coalition and so many members of the public made their voice heard regarding the importance of riparian zones, building setbacks, and responsible development in our rapidly growing borough. 


In response to community engagement and extensive public comment, the Borough approved the formation of an Advisory Board to address the issues with the ordinance.


The second meeting will be on Thursday, December 14th, at 6PM.

See the Borough Agenda for more information. 

You can also sign up for updates from the Borough here


As this advisory board meets and begins to revise the Mat-Su Borough Setback Ordinance, community voices will be integral to making sure that the final product benefits salmon, water quality, and the riparian habitat so vital to our watershed.

 

End of Year Donations





With the beginning of the holiday season, we have been reflecting on the amazing support of our community. 


With your support, the SRC three-member staff has worked hard to represent this stunning watershed with the best views in the world. The Susitna Valley is home for many of us and we can't imagine a better backyard. 


Over the past few weeks, we have fielded a few inquiries on the many ways you can make a tax-deductible donation to your local watershed protecting organization. Highlighted below are some of the ways you can integrate a donation as part of your year-end accounting or a more regular habit.


As a grassroots nonprofit, we rely heavily on individual donations. You can help support the watershed today and into the future.


Qualified Charitable Distributions


Did you know that you can donate to the Susitna River Coalition through your IRA using Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD)?


Why would you want to donate through a QCD? Well, in most cases the donation does not count as part of your Adjusted Gross Income. This means that your contribution will not be taxed. Additionally, you get tax benefits of giving to a charitable organization. You can also count the amount of the QCD as part of you required minimum distribution.


Some plans allow you to allocate donations through their website. Just enter the amount you want to give, the name of the charity (Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives DBA Susitna River Coalition), and a check will be sent! 


You can make Qualified Charitable Distributions from your IRA if you are at least 70-1/2 years old and have an individual retirement fund. 


For More information contact Melissa at Melissa@susitnarivercoalition.org

or call 907-733-5400.

 

Make a General Donation


General donations can also be provided through Paypal. This is a quick and easy great way to support your local conservation nonprofit. In addition to one-time donations, you can set up monthly donations right on the Paypal site. We are so grateful to every donation, no matter how small. 


You can also mail a check to Susitna River Coalition, PO Box 320, Talkeetna, AK 99676. Our EIN is 32-0352363.

 

Call for Volunteers!


Over the past year, The Susitna River Coalition has attended a wide variety of community and state-wide events. At these events, members of the public have provided us with information to keep them appraised of the goings ons in the Susitna Watershed. But, putting all of this information into a usable format takes a lot of work.


Would you like to help us? 

We have between 10-20 volunteer hours for folks! 


Volunteers receive a special gift of 2 tickets to any DAC concert, and the many thanks of our staff. 


Please contact margaret@susitnarivercoalition.org if you are interested

in lending a hand.


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