The decision to return habitat permitting functions to the Department of Fish and Game acknowledges that the responsibilities of Habitat Division are better aligned with the overall mission and structure of the Department of Fish and Game according to a release from teh Governor's office.
After an extensive review, Governor Palin, Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin and Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd concluded that the Office of Habitat Management and Permitting has done an outstanding job of fulfilling their statutory responsibilities under the Department of Natural Resources.
However, the move is expected to improve communications and avoid duplication of efforts while allowing Habitat Division to operate in the same manner it has at DNR to encourage responsible development and protect Alaska's resources.
"We are absolutely committed to the protection of wildlife habitat," Governor Palin said. "But we are just as committed to responsible development of our other resource industries such as oil and gas, mining and timber, and we're going to make sure that development occurs through strong oversight and cooperation between the departments."
The Governor emphasized that both departments share in the State's mission for responsible conservation and resource development and recognize that balancing these two functions is an integral part of their stewardship responsibilities.
"The department and I are committed to bringing these two functions together and making them work," said Commissioner Lloyd.
Both DNR and ADF&G commissioners acknowledge that Alaska's natural resources have not suffered because of the location of the habitat function at DNR. DNR and ADF&G are committed to continuing and supporting the successful work that OHMP has achieved while at DNR.
"I have nothing but praise for the professional staff and the work that OHMP has accomplished at DNR," Commissioner Irwin said.
"I am committed to making this transfer successful and we will work closely with the ADF&G to ensure that we are working together to achieve resource development with protection for Alaska's great environment."
The Governor will submit an Executive Order to the legislature to return fish habitat permitting responsibilities to the Department of Fish and Game.
Detailed planning for the move has begun and movement of personnel and supervision will occur by July 1, 2008.