Every year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game awards five people serving on their advisory committees an “Excellence in Service” certificate to honor their dedication, advocacy, and leadership. This year, three of those five people are from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: Ray Oney of Alakanuk, James Charles of Tuntutuliak, and Barbara Carlson of Sleetmute.
Around 700 people serve on ADF&G advisory committees throughout the state. The groups comment on proposals submitted to the Board of Game and to the Board of Fish, and the boards factor in the committees’ input as they vote on statewide hunting and fishing regulations.
James Charles of Tuntutuliak has worked on the Lower Kuskokwim advisory committee for about 40 years.
“It’s been a long time,” he said, laughing.
One thing that’s kept Charles going is that he supports the regulatory process. He believes that it helps people share the Kuskokwim’s resources.
“I learned from my Mom that I am not the only person who uses the fish or game,” Charles said.
Ray Oney of Alakanuk has similar motivations for the Yukon. Oney has been an advisor on the Coastal Lower River committee for nearly 30 years.
“Just to make sure that the resources that we depend on over time continue and are outside our backdoor,” Oney explained.
Both Oney and Charles received their awards at the Board of Game meeting this November, though neither expected it, but Oney said that he’s glad for the recognition. Not for himself, but for the hard work that the hundreds of advisory committee members voluntarily contribute throughout the state.
Barbara Carlson of Sleetmute is the Y-K Delta’s third award recipient. She has served on the Stony-Holitna advisory committee for 10 years and was unable to attend the Board meeting or take KYUK’s phone call because she is upriver in a cabin, trapping.
Don Quarberg of Delta Junction and Tim McDonough of Upper Lynn Canal are the state’s two other award recipients.
Also at this month’s Board of Game meeting the Board recognized two longtime former Y-K Delta advisory committee members who died this year: Greg Roczicka of Bethel and Paul Beans of Mountain Village. Their knowledge and wisdom was missed by fellow committee members this season.