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Habitat ordinance has other negative impacts

Posted: June 7, 2013 - 8:53am

The Anadromous Streams Habitat Protection Ordinance will have a very negative effect on the real estate market as it expands the river, stream and water bodies (lakes) subject to the ordinance from 602.45 miles to 2,317.25 miles with a 50 horizontal feet set-back from the subject waterways and bodies. Much of the land affected is private property. Private property is rare in Alaska and accounts for only 3 percent of the total land within the state. This will have a significant impact on the price of land and the enjoyment of property. Existing homeowners along these water bodies have lost rights to fully enjoy their property with incomplete clarification on the authorities and expectation of the new ordinance. Additionally buyers are not willing to pay for land they cannot use.

The talk of restrictions on existing structures within the habitat protection district also has a very negative effect for sale and pricing. The execution of the ordinance is vague, with speculation that existing structures, roads and docks may need to be removed. Requests for clarification on how the ordinance will be policed, how it affects access to waterways by existing landowners, the permitting process and variance application are pending and have not been answered.

This limits my ability to sell real estate and market properties at historic prices for the sellers with this ordinance in existence in its current form. From an economic standpoint, this could also have a very negative effect on the oil and gas industry which drives our economic engine on the Kenai Peninsula. Without that engine, we do not have jobs or a real estate market.

I am not advocating the harm of fish. I support the preservation of fish habitat and the important commercial and sport fishing needs of our community. I do not support a blanket taking of land from many to support the needs of a few. There are other ways to support habitat than poorly understood regulation through outreach education, tax credit incentives, etc.

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laurasievert
60
Points
laurasievert 06/07/13 - 01:42 pm
4
0
It is true that the Borough could

It is true that the Borough could have done a better job of bringing this ordinance to the public. Tax credits are a good idea as a reward for people leaving shorelines alone. Education about salmon spawning and its reliance on certain shore conditions will lead many people to do the right thing on their property.

Ms. Feeken, it seems as if you haven’t read the ordinance. Nothing says that any existing structures need to be removed. There is not a “blanket taking of land from many”. No one is taking anyone’s land. And if you think that salmon only “support the needs of a few”, you disregard traditional use of salmon, commercial and sport fishermen, regular Alaskans who eat salmon, the tourist industry, and the existence of the species itself. This is so that property owners can modify shorelines however they want and real estate agents can make more money?

You state that you support the preservation of fish habitat, but the truth is that you support that protection only if it does not affect your real estate business or cause any other inconvenience to you. Unfortunately, wishing that salmon love what we do to shorelines does not make it true. If we are to have salmon here, we need to do things differently than they did in the Lower 48, where bank habitat degradation is one reason that salmon runs have disappeared or exist only as remnants.

There are some Kenai Peninsula residents who believe that the concept of private property is more valuable than the real existence of salmon, but I do not believe most people think that way. I do own property that borders anadromous waters and I support this ordinance.

granny
160
Points
granny 06/07/13 - 06:42 pm
3
0
It's All About The Money

I wish Glenda was as concerned about government intrusion on private property when it came to zoning in Kenai. There she supports rezoning private property against the wishes of the property owner and neighboring owners(and not just 50 feet of restrictions). It's just all about the money for some people. M Schrag

And by the way, how is this ordinance going to kill the oil industry? That's a bit overstated to say the least!

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 06/08/13 - 07:20 am
4
0
Property Rights

If there was ever a time when people should be able to see how not having an abundance of salmon would affect them, it's here and now.

Property owners and real-estate developers defending their "rights" to do whatever they wished with the land played a large part in destroying the once-great salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest, where self-interest trumped interest in conserving salmon spawning and rearing habitat. The same thing will happen here, if people can't understand the relationship of the land to the water and do what's necessary to protect it.

Yes, property rights are important, but if salmon are to survive, activities that adversely affect fish habitat must have limitations.

Property values won't drop as a result of the borough habitat ordinance, but they will if we no longer have salmon.

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 06/08/13 - 01:30 pm
3
0
Excuse me, Glenda, you are advocating harm to fish.

The set-back should have been one hundred feet to really protect fish habitat. I wish that Glenda Feeken had done some reading into how the great salmon runs of the west coast of this continent so tragically declined before she had written this letter....of course it would have been a different letter which advocated for the set-backs, not against them. Much of the demand for real estate here comes from the salmon runs. Advocate actively for them and she will probably prosper more, advocate against them and demand will decline. I was just in Soldotna this afternoon and there are simply not as many people in town as usual for this time of the year. Why? Because the king salmon are doing poorly. Promote the health of salmon through conservative management and real bank set-backs and they will probably recover. Glenda Feeken you can go on all you want about private property rights but you are willing to sacrifice the part of the economy (sports, commercial, dip-net, educational fishing, retail and tourism in general, transportation and construction, etc.) which are dependent on the demand created by the presence of those fish. The fish belong to us all and you are willing to sacrifice them at the whim of some private property owners. I will not be using the services of any real estate business person who advocates against the river, the fish and, by extension, ourselves.

wilsonro
100
Points
wilsonro 06/09/13 - 08:28 am
1
4
Thanks Glenda

Glenda well said, I commercial fish and own property affected by this ordinance and see absolutely no connection this ordinance has in helping salmon returns or habitat. The Kenai River has had these regulations for years and look at what shape its king runs in, so redbrdee maybe with all your knowledge you can explain that to the Eastside Setnetters! My property is 15+ miles from the Kenai River so everybody quite including this ordinance with a healthy Kenai River habitat. Has anyone seen any history with these tributaries and lakes that suggest a problem? Bishop Creek is the tributary that the lake my property adjoins flows into. I have lived out North Kenai for 40 years and the last time I can remember being able to fish in the mouth of Bishop Creek was when I was seven years old, so explain back then what was going on, 99% of the fish habitat back then was untouched! There is no research or solid biology behind any of this new ordinance, I can sit around and dream up all kinds of theories too. This Ordinance is a major government overreach.

beaverlooper
2785
Points
beaverlooper 06/09/13 - 09:40 am
2
0
Bishop creek.

I'll explain what happened to Bishop creek. It was legal to snag salmon back then ,the creek is narrow and clear so you could see the fish. Lay your hook on the bottom ,wait for a school to come into the hole and snag away,it was a blast. The trouble came when there became so many people fishing there,running from hole to hole that the bank just got tromped into a big mud pit.Some places got so bad a person couldn't get through and had to detour around ,then the detours got muddy , etc. At the mouth you didn't even really need a pole if you were there at the right time,the water so shallow you could see their fins coming and catch them by hand ,with a spear or bow and arrow. I loved it, those little blue back reds are very tasty,it was a load of fun and it would have killed the run off .
How is this different from the power line right of way that runs through my property, I can't build ,fence or use that in the way I would please either.Maybe this should be considered a fish right of way.
Granny you are right about Glenda at the Kenai city counsel,the only people who testified for the rezone, all 3 or 4 of them ,had money to be made or were related to or lawyers for those who looked to make money at the expense of others. Ms. Feekin,was one of those with gold in her eyes and she doesn't even live in Kenai.

wilsonro
100
Points
wilsonro 06/09/13 - 11:24 am
1
2
beaverlooper

Snagging was over 30plus years ago!! Has nothing to do with 50ft of some ones property. That whole snagging thing was fun, but it was our genius fishing game that made those rules with no regard for such a small run, I think most the time their brain is where the sun doesn’t shine! If you wanted to get rid of mosquitos have ADF&G manage them!!!

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 06/09/13 - 11:50 am
3
0
beaverlooper's point

Beaverlooper made a good point when he said, "... the bank just got trampled into a mud pit." This is the kind of impact the borough's habitat ordinance seeks to lessen.

An ordinance making the shoreline off limits for ALL activities would be even more ideal for fish habitat, but that's far from what the present ordinance does. It's already a compromise.

I, too, blame the Borough Assembly for all the confusion over the habitat ordinance. It was as if someone on the assembly wanted it to fail, so he or she pushed it through without enough information going out to property owners. As a previous owner of waterfront property, I know that would've bothered me. On the other hand, with all the information that has been offered to property owners over the past year, I would think they would see that it's for the good and in their best interests.

Personally, I won't live long enough to see if the peninsula's salmon can survive the changes we refer to as "progress." I just hope enough residents and lawmakers acknowledge that we can't allow what happened in the Pacific Northwest to happen here. Have we learned anything from their mistakes?

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 06/10/13 - 12:05 pm
5
0
GLENDA FEEKEN IS...............

GLENDA FREEKEN, FRED BRAUN and all the other complaining realtors are DEAD WRONG!!! You are all out for the $$$$$$ and nothing else. Please don't patronize us with the thought that yopu are out to protect salmon and property rights. Some of us do have enough education to know otherwise.

Property values will decline if the fish populations decline.

Furthermore, the current ordinance is rarely enforced and you can see scathing violations in RIVER QUEST and CASTEWAY COVE. When has anyone ever been fined for violation of the current 50 foot ordinance.

What are all you people afraid of?

hutchca
83
Points
hutchca 06/11/13 - 01:33 pm
0
1
2011-12 and 2013-18

One thing is definiately for sure from reading the above comments on 2011-12 (the original ordinance) and 2013-18 the amendment submitted by "fuzzy scientist" laden task force:

- People are uninformed as to the details of either of the Ordinances, and too lazy (common malady) to learn enough to have an informed opinion;
- The true Alaskans of the "I do not care how they do things outside" is no longer among us. The current Alaskan wants to live and look like the "cheechako";
- People are willing to sacrifice their God given rights of the US Constitution in order to feel good about something/anything. Typical Assemblyperson position, I do not care about rights of people, I will always vote for the fish.
- There has been only one violation of any significance since 1996 and that was resolved through education;
- The common Assembly thinking is education is fine; but does not go far enough and needs to have a stick to enforce good stewardship of your private property. The property owner cannot be trusted to take care of his own property;
- The enforcement will essentially be one neighbor reporting on another until considerable and unnecessary expense has been created and passed on to KP property owners;
- These regulations have been in place since 1996 and have not protected the KINGS. Habitat protection will not extend to over fishing which is not discussed in either of these ordinances;
- There has been not one geographically relevant study presented with regard to the fish habitat on the Kenai Peninsula; but again let the KPB assembly just apply in one broad stroke, the principles used outside;
- Where have all the Alaskans gone??

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 06/11/13 - 03:06 pm
2
0
Good points, hutchka

To Hutchka's comment that "The property owner cannot be trusted to take care of his own property."

Ain't it the truth? Before 1971, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act, people along the Kenai were putting bulldozers in the river and making canals, jetties, groins and new channels. They were filling critical wetlands beside the river. People dumped old vehicles in the river to stop bank erosion. One property owner's "bank erosion project" was to line his bank with surplus military coffins.

I agree that property owners are the best stewards of their own property, but they (we) don't always know what's good for the land, the water or all the flora and fauna in and on the land and water. Others simply don't care, and act only in their own best interests. This is why the government must be involved. On that point, we're much better off with the local government making the rules than we would be if the feds or the state got into the act.

Most of the time, I'm proud of our local government. Instead of wanting to do it like they do it Outside, they want to protect our watershed before it's too late. That didn't happen in the Pacific Northwest, and now they're paying the price. It's much more expensive to try to restore fish habitat than it is to leave it in a natural state.

An Alaskan Who Doesn't Want To Do It Like They Do It Outside

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 06/11/13 - 03:26 pm
2
0
Hutchca.....

The real Alaskans now go to school beyond the eighth grade.....

laurasievert
60
Points
laurasievert 06/11/13 - 09:16 pm
2
0
Unglued is right

In order to have a discussion that means anything, people need to educate themselves, not only about what Ordinance 2013-18 actually says, but also about the life cycle and natural history of salmon and why intact banks are critical to salmon survival. Simply stating over and over that we have private property rights and that "real" Alaskans do whatever they want to the land and water is not constructive.

The salmon runs here are in trouble. We know a lot more now about salmon than we did a hundred years ago. Why in the world would we want to repeat the actions that pretty much wiped out salmon everywhere else? But if we stand around and do nothing, we are going down that same road.

I think that the ordinance has already been weakened more than enough. In spite of the fact that there are apparently some people on the Peninsula who are short sighted, or who prefer to do things ‘like they do them Outside’, i.e. drive salmon to extinction, I hope the Assembly has the political courage to pass this ordinance as it is written.

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