JUNEAU -- Gov. Bill Walker has made a second try at filling a vacant seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, this time picking the director of a Kenai Peninsula conservation group for a position traditionally held by members sympathetic to sportfishing interests.
Walker on Monday appointed Robert Ruffner, the executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, to the Fish Board seat previously held by Karl Johnstone, a retired state judge viewed as a strong sportfishing partisan. It's Walker's second unorthodox pick for the slot on a board that has typically included three members representing commercial fishing interests, three members representing sportfishing interests and one representing rural and subsistence fishermen.
Walker's first choice for the seat was a campaign booster and former director of a Cook Inlet commercial fishing group, Roland Maw. Maw's appointment would have upended that balance, and the choice provoked a backlash from sportfishing advocates.
But Maw withdrew his name last month as officials in Montana said they had opened a criminal investigation to see if he illegally held licenses in both Montana and Alaska.
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