Habitat debate filed with misinformation, exaggeration

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently flooded the mailboxes of residents on the Kenai Peninsula with slick flyers from its headquarters in Chicago. The purpose of the mailer was to tell Alaskans to oppose salmon habitat protections in the Kenai Borough.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) holds itself out as “America’s largest trade association,” bigger than the influential American Petroleum Institute. So why would this deep-pocketed group from Chicago reach out to Alaskans to oppose local salmon habitat protections?

The NAR believes protecting salmon habitat somehow harms private property. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, evidence collected from across the U.S. shows that protecting the natural areas along lakes and streams actually increases private property values.

Think about it. If you were trying to buy a piece of water front land, would you pay more for asphalt down to the water line, or a natural space where you could fish, park your lawn chair or let your kids play?

The debate over the Kenai Borough’s salmon protection ordinance has been filled with misinformation and exaggeration. But we know two things for sure: Alaskans love our salmon, and salmon need healthy habitat to thrive.

The Kenai Borough Assembly will take testimony on June 18 at 6:00 p.m. on efforts to repeal the salmon habitat protections now in place for our local streams and lakes. Go to www.inletkeeper.org for more info and make time to testify in person. If you can’t make it, send a quick note to jblankenship@borough.kenai.ak.us to get your views to the entire Assembly.

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