Coastal management deserves attention

In early July, we lost our voice in determining the future of our coastal areas to the federal government.

State legislators didn’t act soon enough and couldn’t come to an agreement to renew the coastal zone management program and prevent it from slipping away.

The National Coastal Zone Management program is a voluntary partnership between the state and the federal government addressing coastal protection, restoration and development. Participating in it gives the state and local communities a say in those areas, but now we are left without a voice.

Thankfully, three officials have stepped up to sponsor an initiative in hopes of getting back in place the critical program. The idea rose from residents’ and officials’ discontent with the decision to let our coastal control slip away.

We think legislators should take notice regardless of the outcome of the initiative process. It is clear that residents want lawmakers to come to the table and work out a program that’s even better than the one we had previously.

For a state that has the most coast line in the nation and complains so much about the overreach of the federal government, it is laughable that our representatives let officials in Washington D.C. decide what is best for our backyards.

We’d also like to thank Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly member Mako Haggerty for stepping up to the plate and leading the charge on the initiative.

Haggerty is quite knowledgeable about coastal issues and we hope he will continue to represent the ideals and concerns of the borough’s coasts well as the process moves forward.

It is commendable that one of our own is stepping up to the plate. Often times it is easy to feel like our voice won’t be heard over the clamor coming from Anchorage and Juneau, but the power rests with the people across the state.

Our borough is very much dependent on the health of our coasts. Take any of our economic drivers — fishing, oil and gas, tourism — and they all either depend on the coast or interact with it in some way.

Protecting our local coasts is important for the future of that economy and the future health of all of Alaska. Certainly there are things that can be improved from the prior management plan, but we first need to make it a priority and come back to the drawing board.

In short: We hope legislators can come together and do what the people want — that’s putting control of our coastal zone back in our hands and let the process start from the bottom and go up.

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