PUBLISHED: 4:47 PM on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Bills provide guardsmen free hunting, fishing licenses
CAMP DENALI, Alaska- Governor Sarah Palin signed House Bill 326 and Senate Bill 214 to show the state's appreciation to Alaska's military families at a ceremony held June 2 on the banks of Ship Creek.

"Our military families are incredibly important to Alaska and make up a large percentage of the population," said Palin. "We appreciate our service members every day and today we honor them by signing two exciting new bills into law."

  Gov. Sarah Palin addresses Soldiers from the Alaska National Guard on June 2 at Ship Creek before signing two bills that allows military personnel stationed in Alaska and serving in any National Guard or Reserve to receive free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, which will take effect January 1, 2009.
House Bill 326 deals with National Guard members who assist the Alaska Department of Natural Resources fight wild fires when they are running low on wild fire assistance and professional or volunteer firefighters.

"I am very proud of the hard work that Alaska's Soldiers and Airmen do to protect our state during the most extreme conditions," Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said. "The Governor fully appreciates what you do everyday and the Legislature shares her appreciation as evidenced with the signing of these two bills."

For years Guard members have been called up to assist during the dangerous fire season and received state active duty pay, which is one quarter or half the amount or what other firefighters, doing the same job, are paid.

"They consistently give their best to us when we need there skills and abilities and they deserve the best from us," said Tom Irwin, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. "This bill will allow us to do just that.

This summer Alaska National Guard members fighting wild fires will earn full emergency firefighter pay for their efforts to protect Alaskan lives and property.

Senate Bill 214 allows Alaska residents who serve in the Guard and reserve, who are members in good standing, to receive free hunting, trapping and fishing licenses beginning January 1, 2009. Active-duty military members stationed in Alaska will be offered hunting, trapping and fishing licenses at residential rates.

While visiting with Soldiers deployed in Iraq, Governor Palin was moved by the fact that the two things they missed the most, other than their families, was hunting and fishing in Alaska.

"I made the commitment to them that I would work to get hunting and fishing added as a benefit to serving," said Palin. "Today that commitment has become law."