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Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

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a supplement to the May 25, 2012 edition of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
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Page 1: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012



STOCKED & WILD LAKES IN THE MAT-SU PG 4 a special supplement to

MAY 2012

p pp

Page 2: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Page 2 Hunting & Fishing Guide May 25, 2012

2012 Summer

Fishing License

Hunting License

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Page 3: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

May 25, 2012 Hunting & Fishing Guide Page 3



Now that you’ve landed your limit of salmon and halibut or harvested your annual moose or caribou, what do you do with it? If you’re like most folks in the Mat-Su, you probably choose to process the animals yourself. Everybody has his or her own way of quartering and butchering an animal or gutting and filleting a fish, so we’ll skip that part.

If you’ve never oper-ated a smoker, a vacu-um sealer or pressure cooker, you might want to learn before you’re faced with a pile of meat or fillets and no knowl-edge of how to preserve them. Luckily, there are multiple resources available to learn about fish and meat preserva-tion. Your local library or bookstore probably has several titles avail-able for your reading pleasure. Perhaps you have family members or neighbors experi-enced in this culinary art who are willing to pass secret techniques and recipes along as they teach you the basics.

You can also tap into a broad base of infor-mation by accessing the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service website at uaf.edu/ces/districts/matsu/. This site lists available publications and class schedules where canning and other food preservation techniques are taught. In fact, from 1 to 3 p.m., May 31, a class on learning how to set up and use a can sealer to preserve fish and meat using a pressure cooker will be taught at the Cooperative Extension’s Palmer office, 809 S. Chugach, Suite 2. Bring you own can sealer. You can pre-register for this class at the above website or call 745-3360 for more details. On June 1, you can get your pressure cooker pressure gauge tested for free.

Another resource is http://tinyurl.com/7km28j8 for information on canning fish and meats in jars or cans; pressure cook-er and boiling water bath canning basics; making jellies and jams; pickling vegetables; making sausage or jerky; and an overview on freezing foods, among other topics.

Extension workshops help preserve your fish and game bounty

BY HOWARD DELOFrontiersman.com

Another article in this publication tells you where to find information about how to preserve your fish and game bounty. Here we’ll discuss the more common food preservation methods used with a hint or two I’ve learned that works best, at least in my house.

Probably the most common fish and meat preservation technique used today is freezing. Packaging a food product in vacuum-sealed plastic bags is rapidly becoming the best way to prepare items for the freezer. Around my house, virtually all the fish we freeze has been wrapped first in a clear plastic film before being inserted into a specially designed vacuum freezer bag cut to size. This includes fillets, steaks,

roasts or even the entire headed and gut-ted fish. The plastic wrap forms a second, air-tight layer and keeps moisture from the food from being drawn into the seal-ing section of the bag when the vacuum is applied.

For moose or caribou, for example, we wrap the meat cuts in that same clear

HELP ONLINEUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension has a wealth of online help for those looking to preserve game meat and fish. Find a detailed menu of online workshops at http://tinyurl.com/7km28j8.

Canning is one of the most popular and cost-effective ways to preserve meat and fish. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension has detailed information and directions on canning at http://tinyurl.com/7km28j8. Above is a screenshot of the agency’s online module that deals specifically with canning game meat.

From freezing to canning, you can do much with meat

See MEAT, Page 10

Page 4: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Page 4 Hunting & Fishing Guide May 25, 2012

For more info and to sign up call 746-3090 or e-mail [email protected] Shooting Range is located at mile 38.5 of the Glenn Hwy

3 miles past the Parks Hwy intersection.

Outdoor Range open Fri noon–8pm

Matanuska Valley Sportsmen

Jun 09 Concealed Handgun Class 7:00 AM – 7:00 PMJul 14 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMJul 21 Defensive Handgun Skills 7:00 AM – 4:00 PMSept. 11 NRA Home Firearm Safety 5:30 PM– 8:30 PMSept. 15 NRA Basic Pistol 8:00 AM – 4:00 PMSept. 20, 21, 22 Concealed Handgun Class 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM*Sept. 25 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMOct. 13 NRA Basic Pistol 8:00 AM – 4:00 PMOct. 18 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMNov. 11 NRA Refuse to Be a Victim 9:00 AM – 2:00 PMNov. 15 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMNov. 17 Concealed Handgun Class 7:00 AM – 7:00 PMDec. 6 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMDec. 18 NRA FIRST Steps –pistol 5:30 PM – 9:30 PMDec. 29 Defensive Handgun Skills 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Note: on all classes only those students who pay in advance are guaranteed admittance. You may sign up without paying, but you will be on stand-by status and can attend only if room is left over aft er pre-paid class members are admitted. *Defensive Skills Class is pre-pay only.


Valley residents Greg and Julie Busch started a nonprofit sport fishing club in February 2009 called Mat-Su Anglers. The club meets the second Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m., at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Wasilla.

Busch and her husband travel to Baja, Mexico, every year with a group of anglers from the Puget Sound Anglers Club to fish for a month. That experience got them thinking about starting a Mat-Su club, so they picked the brains of some friends in the PSA club and Tacoma, Wash., club.

“I grew up fishing and camping all over the world,” Busch said. “My father was in

the Air Force and my husband, too. We were always members of the military base rod and gun clubs, (and) some of my fondest memories as a child were of weekend fishing tournaments and fish frys. Our kids grew up fishing and camp-ing in Alaska.”

Aside from sharing a passion for fishing, Mat-Su Anglers also emphasizes commu-nity outreach, Busch said.

ANOTHER FISH STORYMat-Su Anglers fishing club springs

from love of sport, community

See STORY, Page 5

Jehnifer Ehmann holds a 40-inch lake trout caught in

Susitna Lake.

Photo courtesy Jehnifer Ehmann

Stocked Lakes

Barley Lake Bear Paw LakeBench LakeBenka Lake Beverly Lake Big Beaver Lake Boot Lake Bradley Lake Brocker Lake Bruce Lake Canoe Lake Carpenter Lake Caswell Lake No. 3 Christiansen Lake Coyote Lake Crystal Lake Dawn Lake Diamond Lake Echo Lake Farmer Lake Finger Lake Florence Lake Gate Lake

Golden Lake Homestead Lake Honeybee Lake Ida Lake Irene Lake Kalmbach Lake Kashwitna Lake Kepler Lake Klaire Lake Knik Lake Knob Lake Lalen Lake Little Beaver Lake Little Lonely Lake Loberg Lake Long Lake (Glenn High-way) Long Lake (KB) Loon Lake Lorraine Lake Lucille Lake Lynne Lake Marion Lake Matanuska Lake Meirs Lake

Memory Lake Mile 180 Lake Morvro Lake North Friend Lake North Knob Lake North Rolly Lake Prator Lake Ravine Lake Reed Lake Rhein Lake Rocky Lake Ruby Lake (Rose) Seventeenmile Lake Seymour Lake Slipper Lake (Eska) Lake South Friend Lake South Rolly Lake Tanaina Lake Tigger Lake Twin Island Lake Vera Lake Victor Lake Visnaw Lake

STOCKED AND WILD LAKES IN THE MAT-SUAlaska Department of Fish and Game’s website includes information about lakes around

the state, including the Mat-Su Valley, that may be useful to anglers. Information includes bathymetric (underwater contour) maps, average depths, maximum depths, stocking his-tories and surface area. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/Mat-Su-Lakes.

Continued on Page 10

Page 5: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

May 25, 2012 Hunting & Fishing Guide Page 5

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“My background is in education, so I really wanted to make sure we would have an educational component to the club and that we’d teach kids to fish,” she said. “We also wanted to make sure we could offer workshops to our members to tap into the wonderful expertise we have in the Valley and in our own club members.”

Guest speakers attend club meetings and present information workshop-style each month, and anglers each have an opportu-nity to tell their fish tales or share the latest fishing reports with one another. There is a tackle raffle at the end of each meeting.

Club member Andy Couch writes the Fishing Corner column for the Frontiers-man each week in the summer months.

The club has a mission to enhance sport fishing opportunities in the Mat-Su area and the state. It has several members who are on local advisory councils, including the Mat-Su Borough Mayor’s Blue Rib-bon Sportsman Committee, and who work closely with other groups to edu-cate anglers, sponsor kids casting clinics and support other groups with similar missions.

The group wrote a proposal last year to the state Board of Fisheries to designate Fish Creek in Wasilla as a kids-only fishery. This happens the first weekend in August.

Club members are on hand to assist if needed, and the club has some rods and reels to lend out for the day.

Membership dues are $35 per person or $50 a family. Guides and charter member-ships are available at $75 annually, and they can advertise on the Mat-Su Anglers’ website for free. Corporate memberships are also available.

Mat-Su Anglers Club Mission

Its purpose shall be to preserve, protect and enhance the opportunities for sport fishing through educational, scientific, governmental and other activities consis-tent with the preservation and enhance-ment of fishery resources. We believe in the comradeship and wishes of our fellow sport fishing anglers. We believe that our grandchildren should have a higher quality fishery than we have ever experienced.

1. Recreational fishing is an important part of our culture and way of life.

2. Our fisheries should be managed for conservation of the resource first, and sec-ondly to provide quality, sustainable recre-ational fisheries.

3. We support full enforcement of our fisheries laws, rules and agreements.

For more information about the club, contact president Julie Busch at 892-7543. Membership information is online at mat-suanglers.org.

STORYContinued from Page 4

Photo courtesy Jehnifer EhmannThe Ehmann family enjoys a successful outing fishing for red salmon on the Kenai River last July. They are, from left, Kaylee, 10, Jehnifer, Butch and Callie, 8.

Page 6: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Page 6 Hunting & Fishing Guide May 25, 2012

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Photo courtesy Jehnifer EhmannAs a family, the Ehmanns enjoy outdoor activities and sports, like hunting spruce hen, shown by Jehnifer Ehmann taken last season in the McRoberts Creek area.

Photo courtesy Jehnifer EhmannCallie Ehmann, 8, holds a spruce hen she bagged during an outing along the road to Lake Louise last season. Spruce grouse is classified as small game by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. For Game Management Units 13, 14 and 16, which encompasses most of the Valley, hunters can take 15 grouse per day with a limit of 30 in possession. Of those, not more than two per day and four in possession can be ruffed grouse. The grouse season runs from Aug. 10 through March 31.

Frontiersman on


Page 7: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

May 25, 2012 Hunting & Fishing Guide Page 7



BY HOWARD DELOFrontiersman.com

In their naturally occurring habitat, northern pike are considered to be a fine sport and subsistence fish. In these envi-ronments, pike have reached a balance with other fish species where all the species can thrive. However, pike are not native to our Mat-Su area and have no natural pred-ators here. As a result, northern pike have caused untold dam-age to several salmon and trout populations around the area.

Pike were illegally introduced to Bulchit-na Lake in the Yentna River drainage during the 1950s. Since then, other illegal stockings and natural events like floods have spread the species across vast areas of the Mat-Su. Pike have adapted to lakes, sloughs and slow-flowing sections of rivers and streams. Pike prefer shallow waters with a lot of vegetation where they can hide and ambush other fish. In systems where the pike have removed all the other fish species, they resort to cannibalism to survive.

In an effort to reduce northern pike populations in the Northern District of Cook Inlet, regulations governing fishing methods and bag limits have been greatly relaxed. Get a current copy of the South-central Alaska sport fish regulations book-let and read the sections on northern pike. Generally, there is no daily or seasonal bag limit.

You may keep as many pike as you can catch. Spearing and bowfishing are also legal methods. If you’re ice fishing, multiple lines with multiple hooks can be used. Check the regulations for specifics. Remember, though, it is illegal to release a live northern pike once it has been caught. If you catch a pike, even if you don’t want to keep it, you must kill it before disposing of the carcass. Failure to do so can result in a citation.

So, just how widespread are pike in the Mat-Su? Counting systems along the Susitna, Yentna and Knik Arm drainages, plus the northwest side of Cook Inlet and

Mat-Su Valley lakes, more than 130 bod-ies of water have either been confirmed or reported to hold populations of northern pike. Actual numbers of fish in each sys-tem are unknown, but some have noth-ing but pike left in them. All the salmon, trout, sticklebacks, whitefish, burbot or other fish species that used to be found in

MORE ONLINELearn more about northern pike and how the state Department of Fish and Game is targeting this invasive species at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.

PREYING ON THE PREDATORSNorthern pike a top-level invasive species in Alaska

Photo courtesy Jehnifer EhmannJehnifer Ehmann with a small northern pike taken in the Nancy Lake system. Northern pike are considered an invasive and predatory species in Alaska waters.

See PIKE, Page 9

Page 8: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Page 8 Hunting & Fishing Guide May 25, 2012



BY HOWARD DELOFrontiersman.com

Most folks in Alaska eat a lot of fish, and many prefer to catch their own whenever possible.

For the most part, the sport fishing sea-sonal bag limits are quite generous in the amount of fish an angler can keep, but the daily bag limits can be a little stingy. Fill-ing the section of your freezer dedicated to the season’s catch of salmon and smelt can require a large time commitment if you’re planning to do so with rod and reel. Not everybody can commit to that amount of time.

Subsistence fishing evolved in Alaska to provide those who depend on fish as a main part of their annual diet the ability to secure large numbers of fish in a fairly short time. As human populations grew and civilization with its amenities expand-ed, especially along the highway system, large areas of the state were classified as places where subsistence fishing was no longer allowed. Almost all of the Mat-Su Borough fell into that non-subsistence category. However, people living in these areas were still dependent on having fish

as a significant part of their diet.A new classification of fishing for Alaska

residents only was developed to meet this need. Personal use fisheries around the state allow residents to use similar meth-ods and means with similar harvest limits to subsistence fishing to continue securing their annual needs of fish. There are sig-nificant differences between subsistence and personal use fisheries, but that discus-sion is for another article.

Here in the Mat-Su, we have one per-sonal use salmon dipnet fishery and a sec-ond for those who enjoy eating smelt (or hooligan as they are known locally).

Let’s start with the hooligan dipnet fishery first. To begin with, you must be an Alaska resident and have in your possession a current resident sport fish-ing license. No permit is required for hooligan. The hooligan dipnet season in the freshwaters of our Northern District opened April 1 and runs through June 15. There are no bag or possession limits, but only take the number of fish you plan to actually use for the year and leave the rest to spawn.

CASTING A WIDE NETWhen a rod and reel isn’t enough

See DIPNET, Page 9

Photo courtesy Jehnifer EhmannWhen big game seasons roll around, it’s up to hunters to be up-to-date on current regu-lations. And there’s plenty of game to be hunted. Butch Ehmann bagged this 46-inch four browtine bull moose in the Eureka area of Game Management Unit 13 in 2010.


Dipnetting is managed as personal-use fishing by the state Department of Fish and Game. Licenses are required for dipnet fishing, and regulations and/or restrictions may apply. It’s best to check for up-to-date regulations online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=PersonalUseByAreaSouthcentral.main.

Page 9: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

May 25, 2012 Hunting & Fishing Guide Page 9

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these systems have been devoured by the ravenous, invasive pike.

Just a few of the more popularly fished lakes in the Mat-Su that now have pike are Figure 8, Flathorn, Finger, Crystal, Rocky, Wasilla and Trapper lakes, as well as Jim, Cas-well, Kashwitna, Long (Willow area), Memory and Knik lakes, and both Fish and Meadow Creeks leading into and out of Big Lake and the Little Susitna River.

Virtually all of the lakes in the Nancy Lake area, including the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area (SRA), are local-ly known for pike fishing. Red Shirt Lake used to produce good numbers of sockeye salmon, but in recent years the only fish caught in that lake has been northern pike. I have bowfished in South Rolly Lake, with my biggest fish being a 6-pound, 31-inch pike. I know other bowfishers who make an annual pilgrimage to the sloughs on the Yentna River and harvest northern pike until they get tired of shooting their bows.

Pike can be a lot of fun to catch on rod and reel. If you are using a surface plug, I would highly recommend using a steel leader between the lure and line. Pike have rows of sharp teeth and go through monofilament line like a hot knife through butter. Actually, if you have a dedicated rod and reel for pike fishing, just rig it with the steel leader and you’ll be good to go regardless of the lure or bait fishing method you use.

Pike also make good eating. The flesh is firm and white and can be fried, baked, pickled, smoked or used in about any recipe calling for white-fish. The biggest hassle is filleting the fish to remove the Y bones. You can learn how to fillet out the Y bones either from a video you can purchase from Fish and Game or from a written description contained in a Fish and Game brochure. The video contains a wealth of information about pike fishing. To find out about both of these sources of information, go to the Fish and Game website, adfg.alaska.gov. Click on “Sport Fish,” then click on invasive species, then on northern pike, and finally on the video tab. The brochure is referenced toward the end of the write-up on the video.

PIKEContinued from Page 7

Required equipment includes a pair of hip boots and a fine mesh dipnet on a handle perhaps as long as 10-12 feet, depending on where you fish. A cooler or 5-gallon bucket provides a means to hold the fish while dip-ping and until you can process them for use. I’ve personally had success dipnetting near the mouth of Willow Creek and in the Kash-witna River. If you have a boat, I’m told the Deshka River can be dynamite when the fish are running. In a normal year, the runs in the Susitna River drainage tend to peak around Memorial Day in the more easily accessible areas along the Parks Highway. For recorded inseason information updated weekly on where and how well the hooligan are run-ning, call (907) 267-2515.

The Fish Creek personal-use salmon dipnet fishery is also restricted to Alaska residents only. You will need a resident sport fishing license and a Cook Inlet personal-use salmon fishery permit. Only one permit is issued per household and it is used for all the personal-use dipnet fisheries here and down the Kenai Peninsula. The permit is free and should be available from most local fishing license vendors.

This dipnet fishery opens by emergency order when a specific number of fish (sock-eye) have passed a weir in Fish Creek located upstream of the Lewis Parkway. The entire fishery usually only lasts a few days with hundreds of people competing on a small stream for fish. The best time to dip is on an incoming tide, and if you’re fishing near the mouth, be warned — mud can pose a real problem to mobility.

Legal salmon dipnet dimensions and net bag mesh size is discussed on page 14 of the current Southcentral Alaska sport fish regu-lations booklet. The tails of salmon caught in a personal-use fishery must have the top and bottom lobes of removed before the fish is moved from the fishing site. Tail-clipping requirements are discussed on page 14 also. A map showing the area along Fish Creek open to dipnetting is shown on page 15. A thorough discussion of all the personal-use fisheries around Cook Inlet is contained between pages 13-15 in the booklet. You should read the entire section to familiarize yourself with rules and requirements.

If you have questions about the Fish Creek regulations or when the fishery will open, call (907) 267-2512 for pre-recorded emer-gency order announcements. To speak with a person, call the local Fish and Game office in Palmer at 746-6300.

DIPNETContinued from Page 8

Page 10: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Page 10 Hunting & Fishing Guide May 25, 2012

plastic food wrap and then wrap that in standard white freezer paper and tape the finished package. Surprisingly, we have had burger and roasts as old as two to three years show no signs of freezer burn using this method. As the cost of the vacuum freezer bags declines, however, we’ll prob-ably eventually shift our entire freezer preparation over to that method.

Another common food preservation method involves canning food in either glass jars or metal cans. Personally, I’ve never used cans. While jars cost more initially to buy, they are reusable, where cans are a once-and-done affair. We prefer using wide-mouth jars, since the food is easier to place inside. The vast majority of our canning has been fish in pint jars. My

wife has run several batches of jams and jellies using the water bath technique, but that’s an entirely different process than canning fish or meat.

We like to lightly smoke the fish prior to canning. We usually add just a touch of salt to each jar, and we have been experi-menting with adding some brown sugar as well. Once the jars are filled and lids and rings are in place, we load the pressure cooker to begin the actual canning process.

Our pressure cooker is set to run with a 15-pound equivalent weight over the vent and, once the steam pressure causes the weight to begin its dance, we set the timer for 80 minutes. When the time is up, the cooker is set off to the side and allowed to cool until the gauge says zero pressure and no steam is coming out the open vent. We remove the jars and, as they cool, the lids “pop,” indicating the jars have sealed.

Canning also works well for meat. We

have canned chicken and moose when we got tight on freezer space. Fry the meat first to brown it or crisp it before pack-ing the jars. We have used quart jars here just to hold more meat. The same pres-sure cooker process follows, but the time under pressure varies with the meat being canned. Check a recognized canning pub-lication for the recommended times using the pressures your canner is designed to use.

My wife enjoys making jerky out of moose and normally employs a dehydrator to dry the meat after following her favorite preparation recipe. We have made sausage out of moose as well, usually using a preas-sembled commercial spice package. We have pickled both herring and northern pike using a delicious recipe a friend gave us many years ago. We may try to do some salmon and hooligan this year just to see if it works.

I love smoked salmon. We usually try to smoke some each year. The keys here are the brine formula, the type of wood used in the smoker and the duration of the smoke. My wife likes a slightly salty taste, while I prefer a slight sweet smoky taste to the fish. We’re still experimenting with the brine mix to try to achieve that magic combination.

If all of this sounds like more work than you want to take on, you can always bring your fish and game meats to a commer-cial processing operation that will handle everything for you. I took my bison from 2007 to a commercial processor here in the Valley, and those huge chunks of meat came home with me as steaks, roasts and burger already shrink-wrapped in vacuum bags in portion sizes perfect for my family.

However you choose to preserve your fish and game bounty, remember to enjoy the variety with family and friends.

MEATContinued from Page 3

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension has detailed information and directions on all kinds of ways to preserve meat and fish at http://tinyurl.com/7km28j8. Above left is a screenshot of the agency’s online module on making jerky; right is the site’s instructions on freezing.

Walby Lake Weiner Lake West Beaver Lake Willow Lake Wishbone Lake Wolf Lake X Lake Y Lake

Wild Lakes

Anderson Lake Big Lake Big No Luck Lake Bonnie Lake (Lower) Butterfly Lake (Point McKenzie) Byers Lake Chelatna Lake

Clarence Lake Cornelius Lake Cottonwood Lake Crooked Lake (Finger) Flat Lake Hewitt Lake Horseshoe Lake (Point McKenzie) Jim Lake Kings Lake

Larson Lake Long Lake (Meadow Creek) Long Lake (Willow) Lynda Lake Mirror (Big Lake Area) Nancy Lake Niklason Lake Rainbow Lake (Willow) Red Shirt Lake Reflections (Mud) Lake

(Palmer Hayflats) Sara Lake Shirley Lake Stephan Lake (Talkeetna) Threemile Lake Trapper Lake Twin Lake Wasilla Lake Wolverine Lake


Page 11: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

May 25, 2012 Hunting & Fishing Guide Page 11

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Page 12: Hunting & Fishing Tab 2012

Multi-national companies want to rip up Game Management Area 14A and 31 square miles of our valley just to send coal to Asian powers like China and Japan.

But it’s not too late. There’s a growing coalition of sportsmen, property owners, and fishermen working to protect our recreational access and homes.

TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: www.matvalley.org

Did you know that 19,950 acres of the Mat-Su is currently slated for coal development?