Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, January 05, 2001

Light, temperature, not dead fish, key factors in salmon production

Do we want salmon management based on biology or spaced on mythology? Sometimes people tell us that what the Kenai River needs is more dead fish. Their idea of accomplishing this would be to put more live fish in said river. Of course, what they really mean is: Don't let those skunk egg commercial fishermen have anything.

Happily, the current escapement goal for the river was determined from limnological studies performed by professional biologists. It turns out that the real limiting factor is light, not dead fish.

You see, the murky glacial water of Kenai and Skilak lakes doesn't allow a lot of light to penetrate very deep. That stunts plankton growth. The second sad squeeze on salmon city is still not dead fish. It's temperature. Water that's too cold accounts for a pathetic plankton production.

Then, too, putting more fish in river not only contributes dead fish to various venues, it also puts more live littles in the lakes. If food is lacking, mortality makes for the moon.

Lastly they've discovered that over half the sockeye spawn in or below the outlet of Skilak Lake and their carcasses wash down river where their offspring get no benefit from the decomposing grateful dead. Even if well intending deadbeats were to load these somewhat objectionable smelling salmon in their skiffs and scurry them up to the center of Kenai Lake, nothing would be accomplished. Not enough light. Not enough heat.

Here's the historical perspective. Where were all the fish when the big boys came with traps? Those things could catch more fish than a Florida recounter could count. Yet they never even caught 3 million. Not until biologists started managing did catches top the 3M Company. That 1982 harvest was later eclipsed by ones of 9 million with the average staying consistently north of the trap time tally.

In fact, the minimum escapement goal has been rigorously ratcheted up from 150,000 in the late 1960s to 600,000 today. The minimum escapement goal has also been achieved for 16 years in a row.

Maybe the problem isn't lack of dead fish. Maybe it's too many live fishers.

All I know is: Moses waved a rod at a river and bad things happened. Seems a lot of rods have been waving at the Kenai River recently and bad things happened last year.

Brent Johnson

Clam Gulch

Jan. 27 blood drive in Seward to honor Beverly, Charles Karges

Blood Bank of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Center is deeply saddened by the loss of Beverly and Charles Karges. Beverly's commitment to the Blood Bank of Alaska made her a vital part of our blood drive team in Seward.

Before the establishment of the Kenai Peninsula Center, Beverly single-handedly organized the drives, put up staff from Anchorage at her home, baked cookies and worked with staff doing vital signs and anything else that was asked of her. She was a true Alaska pioneer who always put others before herself.

On those occasions when our Seward travel schedule did not mesh with Bev's blood donation eligibility date, she and Charles would make the trip to Soldotna so she could donate the gift of life. When we established the Kenai Peninsula Center, she wholeheartedly embraced the staff with her kindness and generosity and helped us at each and every blood drive.

It is with a heavy heart that we will designate our Jan. 27 drive as the "Beverly and Charles Karges Memorial Blood Drive" to be held at the Wesley Rehabilitation and Care Center from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Everyone who knew Beverly and Charles knows that they would be honored by each blood donation given in their name. We send our condolences to the Karges family and to the city of Seward for their enormous loss. Blood Bank of Alaska shares your grief and will continue to honor Beverly and Charles each January with a memorial blood drive.

Suzie Kendrick

and all the Blood Bank of Alaska

Kenai Peninsula Center staff

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