Interested members of the public overflow multiple rooms to listen to a forum on Ballot Measure 1 at @360 Studio on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. The forum was sponsored by the Juneau Economic Development Council, KTOO and the Juneau Empire. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Interested members of the public overflow multiple rooms to listen to a forum on Ballot Measure 1 at @360 Studio on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. The forum was sponsored by the Juneau Economic Development Council, KTOO and the Juneau Empire. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Fish fight fills forum

• Empire, KTOO, JEDC host debate about fisheries initiative • Ballot Measure 1 will be decided in Nov. 6 general election vote

The question in November is about Ballot Measure 1, but the question in the room was something different: Who’s more Alaskan?

In front of a crowd that overflowed the KTOO-FM @360 studio, then overflowed the overflow room, Mike Satre of Greens Creek Mine and Emily Anderson of the Wild Salmon Center traded perspectives and rhetorical stingers about Alaska’s most contentious ballot measure since the 2014 referendum on oil taxes.

If approved by voters, Ballot Measure 1 would implement a tough new system of laws protecting salmon-bearing waters. It would become much more difficult for construction projects, including mines, roads and pipelines to get state permits needed to disturb those streams, rivers and lakes.

The discussion stayed away from the technical details of the eight-page ballot measure, which will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Instead, Satre (who has been campaigning against the measure) and Anderson (who has been doing the same for it), attempted to persuade attendees that their side best represented Alaska’s traditional values and will be beneficial for Alaskans in the future.

“This measure was ginned up and funded by Outsiders with no interest in the state,” Satre said after explaining his family’s lengthy history in Alaska.

Anderson countered with her own story and connection to Alaska’s fisheries.

“It’s a little hypocritical to say we should think about where the stream of money should be coming from,” she said, referring to the millions of dollars being spent by oil, gas and mining companies to defeat the measure.

Monday night’s event was recorded for a Friday TV broadcast on 360 North and online at It will also be broadcast on the radio at 7 p.m. Monday on KTOO-FM, and will also statewide public radio. It was the first major statewide forum on the topic since the primary election and was hosted by the Juneau Empire, KTOO and the Juneau Economic Development Corporation.

Empire reporter Kevin Gullufsen and CoastAlaska news director Jacob Resneck hosted the event, which allowed members of the audience to ask questions of Anderson and Satre. Back-and-forth discussion between the two was limited to a handful of rebuttal segments.

Mining and petroleum drilling employs more than 12,000 people in Alaska, and the mining sector pays an average monthly wage of more than $14,000 per month, according to figures from the Alaska Department of Labor.

If the ballot measure passes, Satre said some of that economic gain could be endangered.

Drawing on his experience at Greens Creek, he said that some mining projects cannot advance, even when well-designed, without permanently damaging or destroying fish habitat.

Existing projects compensate for that loss by restoring or preserving larger sections of habitat elsewhere in a process called mitigation.

Ballot Measure 1 would forbid this kind of “off-site mitigation” and require projects to perform mitigation at the job site. Satre said that’s impossible for some work.

“We don’t need a state initiative that will effectively stop mining activities because of that poison pill,” he said.

Later, he added, “For us, the No. 1 thing that causes problems is the inability to use off-site mitigation.”

Anderson admitted that some projects will not be possible under the Ballot Measure 1 protections, saying, “I think many existing operations will be able to meet the standards set.”

She said the goal of the measure is to “restore the balance that has been eroded … since the time of statehood,” and Ballot measure 1 creates that balance.

“It’s a false choice to say you have to pick one or the other. You can have both,” she said.

Alaska’s habitat protection rules are based on regulations, not statute, and Satre admitted that existing law is “somewhat vague.”

The arguments over Ballot Measure 1 arrive at an auspicious moment for Alaska’s salmon industry. On Thursday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that this summer’s commercial catch is 31 percent below preseason forecasts. Only a banner Bristol Bay year prevented an even worse shortfall.

In some places, returns have been apocalyptic enough that Gov. Bill Walker has already declared a disaster.

At the forum, Satre said there is no doubt about climate change, global warming and ocean acidification.

“Our world is changing on a day by day basis, probably faster than any of us thought possible,” he said.

That said, the problem is in the ocean, not in the freshwater habitat ashore, he said, and that is what Ballot Measure 1 addresses.

Attendees at Monday’s forum included those for and against the measure, but none interviewed by the Empire said their minds had been changed by the forum.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.

More in Home

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the Senate floor on March 6. Gray-Jackson was the sponsor of a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
On Juneteenth, Gov. Dunleavy weighs adding a new legal holiday for Alaska

If the governor signs recently passed bill, Juneteenth would be observed as a state holiday in 2025.

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

A view of Angoon from a floatplane on Friday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Thayer Creek Hydro project fulfills ‘dream of the elders’

Angoon hydropower groundbreaking comes after four decades of effort, seeks to stabilize future costs

A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Voters may be asked to OK $22.75M in bonds to upgrade emergency communications, wastewater treatment

Juneau Assembly will consider two proposed measures, take public comments, at July 1 meeting.

Construction on Egan Drive on Tuesday evening leaves one lane open in each direction. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Upgrades at Fred Meyer intersection overnight Tuesday and Wednesday to affect traffic

One lane on Egan in each direction open 7-9 p.m.; northbound traffic diverted 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

Observers from the U.S. Department of Justice examine the accessibility of a polling place in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley during the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election. The Justice Department concluded that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to properly accommodate voters with disabilities. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Disabled Alaskans encountered barriers in recent elections, Justice Department investigation finds

Alaska failed to accommodate people with disabilities who were trying to cast… Continue reading

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign rally at Legends Event Center on Dec. 20, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)
Want to run for President in Alaska? You’ll need a few thousand friends.

On Friday, supporters of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. turned in more than… Continue reading

Customers gather in the seating area of an expanded food court area on Franklin Street on Friday. Reconstruction work that began last fall was recently completed for the facility scheduled to be open between May and September. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Franklin Street facelift: Sites of former Elks Lodge, Glory Hall debut new eateries, housing

Expanded food court opens at former lodge site; donut shop and low-cost apartments replace shelter.

Juneau’s PJ Foy, shown winning the 2023 100 yard butterfly in 48.27 for Thunder Mountain High School during the ASAA state championships at the Dimond Park Aquatics Center on Nov. 4, 2023, qualified for the 2024 June Olympic Team Trials by swimming a 100 long course meters butterfly in a personal best 53.44 on March 16, 2024, at the Speedo Sectionals in Federal Way, Washington. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)
Alaskans secure spots at 2024 Olympics; Juneau swimmer PJ Foy will try for his spot on Friday

TMHS graduate seeking to qualify in 100-meter butterfly at U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Most Read