The formation of a task force to study the borough's anadromous stream protection ordinance is a good step in addressing concerns raised by the regulations.
The task force will be led by Paul Ostrander, the borough mayor's chief of staff, and John Mohorcich, director of the Donald E. Gilman River Center.
The goal of the ordinance, adopted by the borough assembly last year, is to protect the streamside habitat in waters where salmon return to spawn. Such measures have been in place on the Kenai River and a number of other Peninsula streams, and the ordinance in question added similar protection to another 2,317 stream miles across the borough.
However, the measure has raised concerns among affected property owners, who are concerned that new requirements are onerous and impact how they can use their property. Also of concern is a number lakes included under the new regulations, something that many people did not realize would be part of the streams ordinance.
In addition to Ostrander and Mohorcich, the task force includes members of Citizens 4 Responsible Waterfront Land Use, which has lobbied against the ordinance, as well biologists and assembly members. The task force's goal is to investigate concerns and generate recommendations to the assembly for its consideration.
While much of this work should have, perhaps, been done before the assembly adopted such a far-reaching ordinance, addressing it now, before the ordinance is fully implemented in 2014 and before the assembly considers calls to repeal it in its entirety, is a reasonable approach. Balancing habitat protection with private property rights is never easy, and we look forward to seeing constructive recommendations from the task force that address both sides of the issue.