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Alaska commended for saying goodbye to felt

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The new wave of rubber soled wading boots such as this Simms model will soon be the norm in Alaska The new wave of rubber soled wading boots such as this Simms model will soon be the norm in Alaska

Trout Unlimited commends the Alaska Board of Fisheries for adopting statewide phase out of felt sole wading products. Action marks an important step in controlling the spread of aquatic invasive species

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 19, 2010 – Trout Unlimited (TU) today applauded the Alaska Board of Fisheries for adopting a statewide phase-out of felt sole wading products, effective Jan. 1, 2012. The move is aimed at guarding against the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The board on Friday passed the proposal unanimously after hearing testimony earlier in the week from anglers, lodge owners and others who warned that unless Alaska takes action to protect its freshwater rivers, lakes and streams, they risk becoming infected as in other parts of the world.

“The board should be commended for taking this proactive step to end the use of felt sole boots and waders in Alaska which are a significant source of transmission of invasive species. Usually it takes a crisis for people to wake up and act. In this case, the board followed the lead of science, vetted the issue thoroughly, and made the right decision for the future health of Alaska fisheries,” said Mark Kaelke, TU Southeast Alaska Project Director.

Aquatic invasive species have devastated fisheries and municipal water systems in many countries and in other parts of the United States. Enormous amounts of money and time have been spent working to eradicate them from the infected waterways. The yearly economic impact of invasive species in the United States is estimated at $133.6 billion.

Although Alaska’s waterways are relatively free of invasive species,  TU expects that without proactive measures and increased awareness of potential problems, it is simply a matter of time before invasion occurs.

“The Board of Fisheries’ action will command attention far beyond Alaska. By taking this important step, Alaska becomes the first state in the nation to ban the use of felt sole wading products. That sends an important signal,” said Dave Kumlien,   executive director of the Montana-based Whirling Disease Foundation.

Friday’s action is the second time the Board of Fisheries has passed a ban on felt sole wading products. In response to a proposal by Juneau Trout Unlimited Chapter Member, Mark Vinsel, the board in 2009  agreed to ban the use of felt sole waders and boots in Southeast Alaska’s fresh waterways as of January 1, 2011.

The start date for the Southeast ban has now been extended until January 1, 2012, when the measure takes effect statewide.

Many retail manufacturers have supported a transition away from the production of felt soled wading products. At present, most major manufacturers offer non-absorbent soled wading boots and several have committed to producing only non felt products in the future. Between now and when the statewide prohibition on felt sole takes effect, TU urges anglers to always inspect, clean and dry their all fishing gear as a way to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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Comments (3 posted):

Frank Whiton on 23/03/2010 19:57:36
Hi Everyone, This is a great step for Alaska. It should have happened long ago. I guess in the past there were no good alternatives like there is now. Alaska has hundreds of fly fishers from all over the US every year. Anyone who fishes contaminated waters could easily carry something to Alaska. Frank
mcnerney on 23/03/2010 20:09:06
It is good to see that Alaska has taken this small step to help prevent invasive species invading the great waters they have. Larry
AKGuide on 31/03/2010 23:19:24
Yay! Ok, I missed this thread and posted similar details elsewhere....:) well it's thawing here (an even 50 as I type this) and I do believe in the next few days I will be able to test out the new vibram soles on the wading boots... Actually had one of my guides turn me on to these last season but they never arrived in time to get them 'stream wet" Paul
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