November 13, 2004
"More than any individual, Kirkness was responsible for helping set the policy course of local control over fish and game resources in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game," Governor Murkowski said.
Kirkness began his Alaska career in 1950 as a director of the territorial Department of Fisheries. He fought for local managers' authority to close or extend fisheries or alter bag limits for game as changing conditions warranted. (At the time, it was more generally expected that these changes would occur through a more lengthy administrative process.) Kirkness was also influential in winning a constitutional ban on fish traps.
Kirkness worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game after statehood and served as commissioner from 1961-67 under Governor William Egan. His integrity, honesty and pleasant demeanor combined to make him an effective and popular commissioner overseeing a field that could be contentious and controversial.
Kirkness was born in Ballard, Washington, and graduated from Lincoln High School, and the University of Washington with a degree in fishery management. Kirkness served in the Marines in World War II.
Governor Murkowski extends condolences to Kirkness' widow Marjorie and her family. The flag will be flown over the capitol on Monday and sent to the family.
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