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Wolf wants more stream habitat code scrutiny

Posted: February 9, 2013 - 8:17pm  |  Updated: February 9, 2013 - 8:56pm

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly discussed Tuesday whether or not to introduce an ordinance that would require more thorough reporting and examination of the benefits and effectiveness of the borough’s andaromous habitat protection code.

Freshman assembly member Kelly Wolf sought to introduce Ordinance 2013-08, which requests an annual report from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Department to collect a variety of data and generate a written report to assess the benefits of KPB 21.18. That section of borough code outlines the 50-foot anadromous waters habitat protection, a recent of expansion of which has forced public dialogue and a borough administration-created task force to examine its pros and cons and suggest targeted changes to it.

Normally, assembly ordinances up for introduction are included in the assembly’s consent agenda and unanimously set for a later public hearing after which sets in motion an assembly vote on the matter.

Assembly member Mako Haggerty, however, moved to pull the ordinance from the consent agenda to debate whether or not the assembly should set Wolf’s ordinance for public hearing at all.

Haggerty said his objection to the ordinance was related to its timing and not its content.

“I think it is kind of putting the cart before the horse,” he said. “We’ve got a Task Force that’s been working hard on this and I would kind of like to hear what they have to say before we make decisions that pertain to this ordinance.”

Ultimately, the assembly voted to introduce the ordinance 7-1, with the dissenting vote coming from Haggerty. Hal Smalley was absent. Public hearing on the measure is set for the assembly’s March 19 meeting.

Wolf’s newest effort to address the anadromous waters habitat protection code comes on the heels of his attempt to repeal a recent expansion of the borough’s habitat protection. Wolf, however, withdrew the repeal ordinance citing concerns from borough administration about possible violations of Alaska’s Open Meetings Act stemming from an email he sent to all assembly members.

In addition to the annual written report, Wolfs new Ordinance 2013-08 calls for the planning department to analyze all expenses required to implement, enforce and oversee all borough habitat protection ordinances.

Among other things to be included in the annual report, the ordinance would require a list of permits issued, applications declined and the number of violations recorded. It also requires a number of pieces of information not directly related to the code, such as the results of borough outreach education events, the number of river miles closed to foot traffic to protect banks, the total number of commercial operators that navigate anadromous rivers and streams and the total number of permitted projects that failed or required reconstruction, among others.

The ordinance also alleges that required planning department reviews that were to be completed every other year detailing the code’s benefits were never presented since its 1996 enactment.

Wolf countered Haggerty’s comments and said he doubts the Task Force would suggest a comprehensive review of the benefits of the whole code. The ordinance, Wolf said, would provide for a more in-depth look at the code and that would benefit the public.

“We want the public to weigh in and watch us,” he said. “This is an opportunity.”

Haggerty agreed he could see the benefit of more oversight and reporting on the ordinance, but said he would like to consider the ordinance after the assembly sees what the Task Force generates.

Assembly member Sue McClure suggested assembly introduce the ordinance and postpone the vote until the assembly hears from the Task Force.

Ray Tauriainen, an assembly member who also serves on the Task Force, said he was unsure if the group would weigh in on that particular portion of the code or not.

“I don’t have a real warm and fuzzy feeling about this comprehensive report and what it is really going to do for us, but at this point, I’ll probably be in favor of introducing it, but I don’t know where I’ll be on final,” he said.

Assembly member Brent Johnson shared a similar sentiment.

“I hate to object to an assembly member introducing something,” he said. “I’m glad to see this one is different than the one Mr. Wolf was offering a month ago and I would have objected to that one.

“But this I’ll probably be voting in favor of and let it sort its way through the assembly. I don’t necessarily support it, but at the same time I don’t really want to kill it before it is introduced.”

Assembly member Charlie Pierce said he would like the public to weigh in on the code and hopes it “strives toward making things better.”

“I think that we should respect the introduction process and really, you look at it, and I think ... for the most part it is just more oversight and I am not opposed to that,” he said. “It gives folks an opportunity to look at what we are doing and seeing what we are doing is reasonable and makes sense.”

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 02/11/13 - 12:10 pm
4
0
WOLF'S AGENDA?

Does anyone know what Kelly Wolfs agenda is? Is it greed? Is it a vendetta against the Kenai Watershed Forum? Why does this guy want to disrupt an extremely valuable salmon habitat protection measure? Is it just ignorance? Most of us have seen the salmon disapear in streams and rivers in the Lower 48 where unsuspecting land owners cleared and destroyed the valuable habitat needed for these fish to survive.

Sport fishing in this area supports many local businesses and individuals. A clean pristine river that supports and produces salmon and other fish is a good indicator of a healthy environment. Why would anyone want to destroy this healthy environment?

kksalm
240
Points
kksalm 02/12/13 - 10:37 am
3
0
Wolf's agenda?

You're right. It doesn't add up. I like the KW that thinks this
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/youthrestorationcorp...
So what's up with his beef about protecting the fish right here in our own home town?
"this just smells, and it's not spawning season."
http://peninsulaclarion.com/opinion/letters/2012-06-22/clear-ethics-and-...
Agenda? Vendetta? Wut-evah!
Have a nice day

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 02/12/13 - 11:29 am
3
0
Wolf

How did this guy ever get himself elected to the borough assembly? Are we that hard up for candidates?

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 02/12/13 - 02:40 pm
1
1
Wolf's Agenda

All of us who care about rivers and fish in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Alaska need to consider whether the agenda is coal and the possible demise of the Chuit River and other rivers. Remember: coal mining destroys rivers and water quality and will provide very few jobs. Don't...ever...forget. If you or your kids need a good job, stay in school or go back. Don't destroy Alaska! That is a rotten, cheap way to get a job! Is Kelly Wolf a mines-that-destroy-rivers guy?
If you are unaware of this: our water quality laws in the Borough may constrain the Chuit river coal project (also known as Chuitna) where much of the river will be removed. It is a salmon river on the west side of Cook Inlet (until this happens). The coal's destination would probably be China after which it would return to us in the form of acid rain which destroys water quality for young salmon among other things. One wonders...in an area purported to be so conservative, why are we so determined to aid the economy of China while its government remains communist and totalitarian and at such an enormous cost to our state's environment, iconic fish and economy. The same question applies to the Pebble mine and the others waiting in the wings that are like it in that most of the copper will benefit China and destroy part of our long time employment base in (sports, commercial and subsistence) fisheries permanently. China is building huge dams over regional rivers at the expense of neighboring countries and needs to move the resulting electricity around. Why would we essentially aid that effort with these copper mines in our watersheds? It will also hurt the United States economically....lots of cheap electricity in China from ill-conceived (or should that be mal-conceived) dams that would come from destroying our economically productive watersheds.
Much of my mother's family died in the Soviet Union under Stalin. I find this rush to take China's dirty money (under this current government) for natural resources really unsettling especially when it will result in so much damage to the environment which employs so many here.

KMarx
181
Points
KMarx 02/13/13 - 06:44 am
2
1
Maybe, just maybe

Mr. Wolf is concerned about the governments ability to sieze private property without compensation or justification. Every Assembly member should share Mr. Wolf's concern.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 02/13/13 - 08:08 am
1
0
Apathy

Cuss & Discuss, Rant & Rave, whine & complain all that You wish but Nothing repeat Nothing will Change until your fellow Alaskans make the TIME TO VOTE.

All of these canidates were elected into office during the August 2012 Republican Primary Election.

House Dist 34 Senate Dist Q 5% Voter Turn Out for the Primary Election Soldotna Sports Center

Voter Apathy is Your Own Worst Enemy.

SPW Soldotna

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 02/13/13 - 11:33 am
1
1
Baloney

It is a huge stretch, kmarx, to say this is an issue concerning seizure of private property. The proper concern in this instance is that the government is allowing serious damage to the public resource and the private economy by allowing some land owners to damage watersheds on which much of the economy of this area is based if said government does not step up and prevent it. There is a huge body of research of this sort of damage done up and down the west coast of the U.S. in salmon country to show how it works. Your private property idea has the few damaging the many. Stop promoting damage to our economy and the environment that we all own in common, especially the water resource.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 02/13/13 - 05:26 pm
1
1
IT'S A WIN WIN - HABITAT PROTECTION

KMARX, I find your post interesting in this modern day and age. Has the human mankind race not learned anything from years of destruction of streams, rivers and lakes in the Lower 48?

We have an opportunity here to preserve, conserve and improve fish habit on our properties.............and believe it or not.........GET PAID TO DO IT. You can install a dock and vegetation (spruce trees, willow sprouts, etc.) along your property to stop or reduce the erosion or your waterfront property. The permitting process is easy and the Feds will even pay you cold hard cash to improve your property for fish habitat and prevent your valuable land from eroding away.

It's a WIN WIN situation.

The property owner gets compensated monetarily and rewarded the next time he goes fishing. The habitat improvement will improve and increase the number of fish; thus improving the welfare of several local business and the land owners themselves.

When the fish are gone, the property values will decrease.

KMarx
181
Points
KMarx 02/13/13 - 08:29 pm
1
0
No new regulation is needed

If there is an justifiable public need for the easements created by this ordinance then the Borough should negotiate with the property owners to purchase the easement. If no agreement can be reached the Borough should go through a condemnation process and prove to the court the overriding public need. If the court is in agreement with the Borough the court will establish fair compensation for the owner.

Any other process is an uncompensated seizure of private property, no matter how heartwrenching the arguement.

KMarx
181
Points
KMarx 02/13/13 - 08:30 pm
1
1
No new regulation is needed

If there is an justifiable public need for the easements created by this ordinance then the Borough should negotiate with the property owners to purchase the easement. If no agreement can be reached the Borough should go through a condemnation process and prove to the court the overriding public need. If the court is in agreement with the Borough the court will establish fair compensation for the owner.

Any other process is an uncompensated seizure of private property, no matter how heartwrenching the arguement.

Suss
4030
Points
Suss 02/14/13 - 06:28 am
1
0
There is no condemnation process

The KPB has no power to take property by eminent domain condemnation process. This is unique to our borough.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 02/14/13 - 02:08 pm
1
0
GREED & SELFISHNESS

KMARX-So it is greed & selfishness that promotes the thinking and actions of a few. I am wondering...........do the utility companies up there pay the property owners for their easments?

I think most of the Borough assembly members will be intelligent enough see through this fiasco.

hutchca
85
Points
hutchca 02/26/13 - 01:04 pm
0
0
Scrutiny by which all taxpayers can benefit!

The issue presented by Mr. Wolf, KPB O 2013-08, is the highlight of need to PAY ATTENTION and monitor the activities of our local government. It is fairly obvious and perhaps outright stated if the electorate are not PAYING ATTENTION, the elected will do as they please, without any scrutiny or analysis of the benefit to the taxpayers. All Mr. Wolf is doing is asking the assembly to restore the accountiability that was conveniently removed with the passage of KPB O2011-12. It should be understood there is a great majority of people in this entire state that value the presence of the fish. I should know because I eat it several times a week and there are hundreds, if not thousands, that travel to the peninsula to gather (dip net) the fish from the water.

HOWEVER, before each stream and lake side property owner involuntarily donates his property to fish habitat application, permit and fine process mandated by the local government, he should:
WANT to be ask to participate in the decisions;
KNOW how drastic the situation is before drastic measures are mandated;
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW the status of his own property with regard to reparian habitat.

These are issues in which every property owner and involved taxpayer should be interested. The provision and conservation of the fish will easily be there when people are responsible for their property and voluntarily involved in the good stewardship of their environment.

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