Sport fishing isn't just about fish; it's about peninsula's quality of life
Recently, on a local talk radio show, I heard a startling, but all too common, comment by a call-in listener. The host had made reference to the upcoming Board of Fish hearings (which commence mid-week in Anchorage) and casually asked the guest if he would attend. The reply, with little forethought, was a short and casual "Nah, I don't even fish."
Wake up, Soldotna! It is just this kind of ignorance that threatens all of our standards of living. Sure, most sport fish operations and lodging facilities realize the importance of our summer visitors and the dollars they pump into our local economy.
Ironically, even the most nostalgic "sourdough" or tourist-bashing commercial fisherman reap the benefits of a healthy sport fishery and the visitors it brings. From gas stations to go-carts, dry cleaners to dirt movers, every local business is affected by tourism. A simple comparison of their February and July totals would quickly drive this point home.
But the buck doesn't stop there! Each and every resident of the Kenai Peninsula, from school age to retiree, is positively influenced by tourism. Who doesn't like the safer and shorter highway to Anchorage? And what local doesn't enjoy the one-stop shopping our "super stores" offer, not to mention the lower prices that occur thanks to the competition of several major grocery retailers.
Ever eat out? Our vast choices in restaurants can be directly traced to increased summer revenue. And you better remind your teen that the five fast-food joints in Soldotna were not established for the sole purpose of appeasing him and his buddies!
Do you ever purchase any of your Christmas presidents in our numerous gift shops? Believe it or not, the holiday season is not their busiest time of year. Tourist season is, yet we, the locals, again reap the benefits of selection, choice and competitive pricing.
The bottom line: If sport fishing opportunity declines, so does tourism and the millions of dollars that it brings to our local economy.
So, when you get behind a slow-moving motor home this summer, bite your lip and exercise a bit of patience. More importantly, at least consider attending the Board of Fish hearings, letting board members know how important sport fishing, and the revenue it generates, is to our great way of life here on the Kenai Peninsula.
All Americans share equal access to Alaska's fish, wildlife, waters
I wish to convey my support and appreciation to you, Kelly Wolf, and the members of the Youth Restoration Corps.
But I must take exception to your letter of Jan. 27. As I see it, you became "politically" biased in your remarks charging the Board of Fish with a "self-motivated agenda" "that takes from commercial fishers and benefits guided commercial fishers."
You further state the "need to gain control for the benefit of Alaskans, not revenues and outside interests." I see the main motive of your letter as "self motivated."
I would suggest that those youths and yourself may be better motivated by reading and understanding that we all share equal access to our common property fish, wildlife and waters as citizens of our nation and its people as a whole.
This letter is written by a lifelong U.S. citizen and only a 54-year resident of Alaska. I am the owner of property which borders over 2,000 feet of Kenai River banks. After inviting the Kenai Peninsula borough to examine the protection we had self-financed and installed, as grated walkways and bank protection, the assessed value of my property was raised $18,400. For this, I am now paying increased taxes.
Also, I placed this property under a conservation easement so it will be protected in perpetuity. The borough has for five years stated in writing that this conservation easement provides no protection for the Kenai River.
I wish under your guidance the members of the Youth Restoration Corps would recognize that these non-Alaska youths who bring their parents and grandparents to our great state have equal rights of access to fish the Kenai River as do the residents of Alaska and-or the Kenai Peninsula. Some of those senior citizens have served in the protection of our nation.
Again, I thank you for your nonpolitical guidance and honor the well-deserving members of the Youth Restoration Corps.
Gate across beach access road ineffective way to beef up security
I have a problem with the gate on Salamatof Beach Access Road. It is a private gate across a public road, and I believe that is illegal.
When I asked security there how that came to be, I was told the road belonged to Phillips and always had.
The state's Department of Transportation right-of-way division is researching it, but this is what I came up with. From my understanding, the Mumfords homesteaded there and put that road in, so they would plow it and the school bus could come get the kids. They then turned it over to the territorial government. When Alaska became a state, the state got the road. I say this because when the Phillips plant was built, the company unloaded some of its stuff on the beach to avoid high labor costs at the union dock at Rig Tenders. The longshoremen did not like this but weren't allowed to put a picket line across the road because it was a state road.
I know personally the road has been maintained by the state since then because I, and many, many others use that road a lot.
The security the gate provides is nil. It is phony security; you can't even see any of the plants from that road. If they want to put up gates, I would suggest they beef up the front gates to their own facilities; they look pretty frail to me.
If that gate must remain, it should be a state gate and a Department of Transportation man or trooper should have the key.
Young not representing Alaska by not showing up for votes
It is time for a new congressional representative for the state of Alaska. If Don Young can't handle the "stress" of working with fellow politicians, then maybe he should step aside and let someone who can.
We have but one representative, and he is the worst offender when it comes to absent votes. This is not how Alaska should be represented. Every vote counts when you only have one.
The Republican Party of Alaska should give serious consideration to pulling financial support for this kind of childish behavior, but the Republican Party of Alaska will probably back him again, and no one from the Republican Party will run against him.
I generally vote Republican (although I am not registered to any party), but, rest assured, if the Republicans back Young again, I will vote for the Democrat -- no matter who they put forward. At least he/she will be there to vote for us. I encourage others to do the same.
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