Most Mat-Su lakes and streams have started freezing over — and even though I saw some people ice fishing on Kepler and Bradley Lakes near Palmer this week — I prefer to wait longer until the ice is more solid and less likely to break before I venture away from shore. After Thanksgiving is often when I start ice fishing, but coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and Thursday, Nov. 19 are two Mat-Su salmon related meetings that I highly recommend Mat-Su anglers “attend” or consider attending. For the first time this year participants for both meetings will be able to attend/participate through virtual/online options.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) 2020 Season Summary MeetingOn Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission will host Department staff in the annual meeting reviewing the 2020 summer salmon season with questions and discussion about the Department’s management of Mat-Su and other Upper Cook Inlet salmon stocks. The agenda includes a couple opportunities for public participation — since there will be lots of information to cover during the meeting — public members who want to participate should carefully prioritize a question what they may want to ask ahead of time. ADF&G staff has already posted a 2020 Northern Cook Inlet Season Summary report that may be reviewed online Likewise a 2020 Upper Cook Inlet Commercial FIsheries summary is also available for review:

Although this is a season summary meeting — there will also be some consideration for Department priorities, and what is likely to occur during the 2021 salmon fishing season as well.

As a member of the Fish and Wildlife Commission I will be attending the ADF&G Season Summary meeting in person at the Mat-Su Borough Building at 350 E Dahlia Avenue in Palmer. The public may also attend in person — although wearing a Covid mask or face shield will be required in the borough building and personal spacing between participants will also be expected. Some ADF&G staff and members of the public may choose to attend over their computer by clicking the following link: on that page you can then click a link to attend the meeting starting a little before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

In addition, people can also phone in and listen to the meeting using one of the following numbers: 1-907-290-7880 or toll free at 1-844-643-2217 after calling in you will be asked to enter the following access code: 895866222#. Be sure to include the # at the end. You may want to write these numbers down, now, in an easy to remember place so you don’t have to search for them later — that has been my learning issue with these new public meeting formats.

One member of the public commented that the number of people attending this meeting could increase significantly as people can attend without driving long distances after dark. The process will be new for this public meeting — but the public is strongly encouraged to participate — especially during this first online fishing season summary meeting. Public feedback about online participation from this meeting will be helpful for future public participation opportunities.

Mat-Su Salmon Science and Conservation SymposiumIn the past the Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership has hosted this as a two-day meeting in mid-November at a Mat-Su Valley location, however, the 2020 Symposium will be a one-day online only meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. As the meeting title proclaims this is a meeting discussing salmon science — mostly related to Mat-Su salmon habitat. Registration is free and will be conducted through Monday, Nov. 16. If you are wondering if you may be interested I would suggest registering and taking a look at the agenda. Some folks may be interested in only a session or two during this full-day meeting so it pays to study the agenda and plan ahead.

I am particularly interested in the keynote speaker at 9:30 am and a discussion on Deshka River habitat later on. Register for this meeting at click the 2020 symposium link near the bottom of the page.

Well there you have it — an entire Mat-Su fishing column about two public meetings and how you may participate in a safe manner — even from the comfort of your own home! I hope to see or hear you at one of these meetings, or hear of your participation afterwards. In a future column I will discuss some of what I learn at these two meetings.

Good Luck and fish on!

Andy Couch is a member of the Matanuska Susitna Borough Fish & Wildlife Commission and the Matanuska Valley Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

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