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Partnership forms for fish issues: Groups find strength in numbers to address myriad of habitat problems on peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Increased population growth, unregulated development, habitat fragmentation, degraded water quality, loss of water quantity and climate change -- there are a myriad of problems threatening fish habitat on the Kenai Peninsula.

And, rather than local stakeholder groups working individually to address these issues, a new group made up of private and public partnerships will work collectively to protect and resolve problems related to habitat.

The Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership (KPFHP) was approved as a recognized Fish Habitat Partnership during a meeting of the National Fish Habitat Board on Jan. 15.

The idea of a local regionwide partnership began to take seat in 2007 when the Kenai Peninsula Partnership submitted a letter of interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Habitat Action Plan board.

After the application was approved, an ad-hoc committee made up of members from state, federal and local government agencies along with members of the non-profit community began laying the groundwork to devise a strategic plan that covers the geographical Kenai Peninsula, the marine waters and the west side of Cook Inlet.

With the strategic plan submitted, Kenai Peninsula Partnership gained full partner status with the National Fish Habitat Board. The decision to approve the Kenai group as a recognized fish habitat partnership was unanimous by the 19-member national board.

The Kenai Peninsula Partnership becomes the 15th regional habitat partnership in the U.S. and represents the third such partnership in Alaska. Like the other two Alaskan partnerships -- the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership and the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership -- the goal of the Kenai group will be to raise awareness of fish initiatives, assign priorities and generate annual congressional support to improve aquatic habitat.

The first meeting of the Kenai group will be Friday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association building. The organizing committee will present the strategic plan and the nine-member steering committee will be designated.

There are three dedicated seats: to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Services. There are also six at-large seats to be filled on Friday.

To learn more about the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership, visit the link at the Kenai Watershed Forum Web site at http://office.kenaiwatershed.org/KPFHP/.

Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership partners

* Alaska Department of Fish and Game

* Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

* Kenai River Sportfishing Association

* Kenai Area Fishermen's Coalition

* U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

* Kenai Watershed Forum

* U.S. Forest Service

* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

* Kenai Peninsula Borough

* Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance

* City of Soldotna

* City of Seward

* City of Kenai

* Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation

* Alaska Department of Transportation

* ConocoPhillips

* Cook InletKeeper

* The Nature Conservancy

* Kenai River Professional Guide Association

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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