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Salmon habitat protection worth the investment

Posted: January 24, 2013 - 4:41pm  |  Updated: January 25, 2013 - 9:58am

Most Americans recognize that it is the government’s role to build and maintain infrastructure, like roads, airports and harbors, to support economic activity. Healthy freshwater salmon habitat is an essential part of the infrastructure for our commercial salmon, seafood processing, sportfishing and tourism industries. Rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands directly support the several hundred million dollars that salmon-related businesses bring to the local economy every year. We didn’t have to build this infrastructure but our government has the responsibility to maintain it. Individual citizens and non-governmental organizations can help, but can’t do it on their own.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, Mayor’s Office and community volunteers are currently working hard to fine-tune an Ordinance (2011-12) to extend regulatory protections to critical stream-side and lake-side salmon habitat. They are doing what has to be done if we want both continued development and continued economic benefit from salmon. It requires some public investment to protect and maintain this infrastructure, but the return is well worth it.

I own lake-front property on the Kenai Peninsula and I support their efforts. Anyone who is worried that some restrictions on clearing and building within fifty feet of streams and lakes will ruin their property values should contemplate what will happen to property values around here if we lose our salmon runs.

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AKNATUREGUY 01/29/13 - 09:26 am

YES, Catherine, you are correct in your assessment of protecting the fish habitat. There are a few greedy local individuals who would argue otherwise. My guess is Fred Braun and other local realtors would be in for a big shock if our fishery resources are depleted. There would be a huge drop in riverfront property values along the Kenai River if the fisheries are depleted.

Unglued 01/29/13 - 10:48 am
It's the least we can do

To ban activities that are harmful to fish habitat in a narrow, 50-foot-wide band beside our lakes and streams is the very least we can do to help ensure the future of salmon on the Kenai Peninsula. Anyone with an open mind can see that this isn't enough protection, given our growing population, coupled with the human urge to squeeze the last dime out of every resource. To see what human impacts can do to habitat over time, look at the Pacific Northwest. Oregon became a state in 1859 and Washington in 1889. In the relatively brief time between then and now, the places needed by salmon to breed and grow have been impacted to such a degree that runs are either extinct, threatened or greatly reduced. That some people can't understand that the same thing is now happening on the Kenai Peninsula is disheartening, to say the least.

AK49er 02/09/13 - 11:07 pm
fish habitat

Right on, Catherine! States all over the country are now coping with fish habitat restoration efforts. They are finding that once it's gone, it's nearly impossible to regain the product Mother Nature provided.
Please, let us learn from the past. Alaska, and it's people will be the big losers without wild salmon.

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