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It isn't easy, but forward thinking is worth the effort

Posted: January 8, 2012 - 10:08am  |  Updated: January 9, 2012 - 10:10am

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly over the summer passed an ordinance of remarkable foresight.

It's one that will protect streams critical to our fishing industry borough-wide. The anadromous streams ordinance the assembly passed was meant to protect the fragile near-stream habitat, but sadly became more a political debate about the borough's power and spending habits.

And now, as the calendar tells us the ordinance has come into effect, the assembly and borough administration are tasked with implementing it and bringing all of those streams and their likely long-standing issues into compliance.

On first thought, that didn't seem like a big deal -- the assembly fought an uphill battle just to pass the ordinance.

But those same people who fought against it are the ones dragging their heels on its implementation. They say the borough is going to spend too much money managing all of the streams, that adding extra staff at the Donald E. Gilman River Center is an overstep.

However, we agree with the comments of assembly member Brent Johnson on the matter who offered a simple remedy: relax.

Agreed, Mr. Johnson. There are likely more than a handful of issues the administration and River Center staff will have to work on over the next several years, but it doesn't need to be done at a speed or a cost that will put a hurt on taxpayers' pockets.

These first few years will be hard -- resolving the decades of issues we haven't addressed won't be done overnight. But they will be done, because they must.

Even if we do end up spending $40,000, or $80,000, or more a year on staffing and supplies to handle the added workload, that's money well spent. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, right?

Assembly president Gary Knopp also recommended the borough break off the issues into smaller chunks and handle them as they come, letting the new administration catch up and letting the work dictate the staffing levels.

Agreed, Mr. Knopp. Those against the ordinance will point to the sizeable -- yet not overwhelming -- amount of short-term work needed to complete its intent as a means of distracting, causing headaches and derailing the train.

Don't listen. Remember the big picture -- that generations of Peninsula residents will admire the wisdom and tenacity you had to stick by the legislation you passed and the amount of work required to implement it on many peoples' part.
 
In short: Don't despair. We will, at some point or another, have an effective, robust program for protecting our stream banks borough-wide. It is going to take a lot of work, and perhaps some money, on everyone's part over the next several years. But that work is the kind most important to us.

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