PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - State wildlife biologists say salmon habitat in the Mat Su Borough is being damaged by the growing number unpermitted off-road vehicles crossing streams and rivers.

Budget cuts to state wildlife troopers have made it nearly impossible to enforce Alaska Department of Fish and Game anadromous stream crossing regulations, leading to what officials describe as hundreds of incidents throughout state public lands in which ATVs and off-road vehicles barrel through historical salmon runs, damaging critical habitat along the way.

Alaska statute 16.05.871 states no person is allowed to drive vehicles through salmon spawning rivers, lakes and streams without obtaining a permit from ADF&G.

“The traffic on these trails is probably up 20 times what it was 10 years ago, just because the population increase and the number of increase of ATVs in the valley,” said habitat biologist for ADF&G Ron Benkert.

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