As part of his $200 million cuts in line-item vetoes, the governor has erased the funding for Wrangell’s Alaska Department of Fish and Game office and an Office of Children’s Services caseworkers approved by lawmakers.

Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang recommended the closure to save around $70,000.

Agency officials have said the closure would not impact fish management, including research on the Stikine River. Local commercial fishermen and sportsmen say the office is a go-to source for keeping up with regulations.

One fish and game employee would be laid off. Another would relocate to Petersburg’s office. All field work in the island town would continue. This would not impact enforcement — wildlife troopers are part of the Department of Public Safety.

The office is already closed to the public for the rest of April due to Covid-19 concerns. The official closure is set for June 30. 

Ketchikan independent Rep. Dan Ortiz had been vocal about keeping local services in Wrangell. Local cuts and those to the Alaska Marine Highway System shook him.   

“I’m flabbergasted. I can’t believe that it happened, but it’s happened and now we have to see what we can do to rectify the situation,” Ortiz says.

It takes a vote of three-quarters of the legislature to override the governor’s vetoes. 

The governor also vetoed a part-time Office of Children’s Services caseworker to be based in Wrangell at a cost of $90,000.  

A single Petersburg-based caseworker is currently responsible for the welfare of children in three communities: Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake. Wrangell has not had a local caseworker since 2008. 

Note: $200 million is an updated figure