JUNEAU — Several people urged lawmakers Monday to reject a Fairbanks trapper’s pending appointment to the state Board of Game, labeling him an “extremist” who would tilt the board in favor of pro-hunting interests.
Gov. Sean Parnell nominated Allen Barrette, 44, in February. Barrette provided the swing vote at his first board meeting in Fairbanks as the board erased a no-trapping buffer zone on the eastern side of Denali National Park and Preserve, a vote that rankled opponents.
Fairbanks conservation activist Art Greenwalt said Barrette’s active commercial hunting and trapping interests create too strong a personal and professional interest for Barrette to serve as an effective policymaker. Barrette owns Fairbanks Fur Tannery.
“Voting to confirm him would be telling Alaskans integrity and professionalism have no place on the Board of Game,” Greenwalt told the House Resources Committee.
Others told the committee they question past biblical statements from Barrette regarding man’s role in managing wildlife and his generally pro-hunting stances.
Juneau businessman Greg Brown said the appointment would injure Alaska’s ability to market itself as a state friendly to visitors interested in wildlife viewing.
Barrette, who served on a Fairbanks fish and game advisory committee for six years before his appointment, disagrees with those who say he has a conflict of interest because he owns a fur tannery and sells traps.
“I’m not a one-sided, agenda-driven person,” Barrette said after participating in Monday’s hearing. “I don’t make decisions based on my livelihood.
“I’ve got a concern for Alaska wildlife,” he said.
He said critics who claim he and other board members represent only “consumptive users,” people who hunt and trap, don’t see the whole picture.
“I’m a consumptive user, but me and my family spend far more time observing Alaska’s wildlife than we do trapping and hunting it,” he said. “We visit state parks and national parks. We go camping and hiking and take canoe trips and go berry picking.
“We probably participate more as non-consumptive users than consumptive users,” he said. “We pull over to stop and look a moose when we see it on the road just like everybody else.”
Lawmakers said their offices have been swamped with calls and letters about Barrette’s appointment, with most callers and authors opposed.
Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage and co-chairman of the Resources Committee, compiled a list late Monday morning of letters and e-mails collected during the past week; 14 people wrote Johnson supporting confirmation, and 17 said they were opposed.
But Johnson said the broader tally this winter has been dominated by opponents, with organizations traditionally opposed to game management practices such as aerial wolf hunting making a strong push against Barrette.
Outdoorsman and former state Board of Fisheries member Virgil Umphenour was among the few supporting Barrette on Monday, saying Barrette’s experience would provide an asset to the Board of Game.
“You need people on the boards, all our boards, especially the three that deal with our resources, that have an interest in the resources, an interest in the use of the resources and an interest in the responsible use of our resources,” Umphenour said.
Monday’s hearing was scheduled to collect comments only. The Senate Resources Committee will hold a similar hearing Wednesday, and the full Legislature will consider Barrette’s appointment Friday. It also will consider the reappointment of former state lawmaker Ben Grussendorf, of Sitka, to the board.