Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2001

Fish and Game study irrelevant except as academic exercise

You published articles on Sept. 26, 2000, and Jan. 29, 2001, about a study of a trend of declining purchases of recreational fishing licenses by Alaska residents. As a member of the subject group -- a regular annual license holder until recent years when I have not purchased a license or fished -- I am both interested and confused by the articles.

Why do the numbers of resident license holders cited by the Division of Sport Fish in the articles not agree with the numbers it publishes annually in its Statewide Harvest Reports (see data for the last two decades below)? The articles cited figures of 191,000 and 176,000 for the years 1993 and 1999 respectively as contrasted with the 181,843 and 172,717 cited in the annual reports.

In fact, according to the annual reports, the number has never been any higher than the 184,813 cited for the year 1991. This would suggest that the trend of the numbers has been effectively flat since about 1984 -- 16 years. Why are we suddenly concerned?

1980 132,103

1981 138,784

1982 156,324

1983 169,761

1984 177,949

1985 176,725

1986 180,936

1987 181,721

1988 177,383

1989 174,942

1990 180,214

1991 184,813

1992 182,245

1993 181,843

1994 183,186

1995 176,428

1996 180,747

1997 180,029

1998 173,833

1999 172,717

Is the objective to provide recreational fishing opportunities within the context of what the resources will support or to sign up as many fee-paying users as possible?

Is there some ideal percentage of the resident population that should purchase recreational fishing licenses?

If some of the anecdotal evidence reported in the articles that overcrowding is a major cause is correct, isn't the problem at least partially self-correcting?

Suppose one found out that other anecdotal reports about the cost of gear, day-to-day fluctuations in return run strength and lack of available camping locations were all major factors. What is anyone going to do about it that is not now being done? If you were to solve these problems, don't you exacerbate the crowding problem?

Whether or not I choose to avail myself of the privilege -- not the right -- to recreationally fish in Alaska is my decision. Assuming that I fish legally, I do not expect the state of Alaska to criticize the reasons I choose to fish, to guarantee my results or to somehow take the initiative to change the things which cause me to choose not to fish.

The real question is not why are these numbers true; but rather what are the implications of that truth? If a smaller percentage of Alaskans is choosing to engage in recreational fishing, what does it say about the often-referenced demand by residents for food for the table and fish-based recreational opportunities?

The information prompting the study is not new; the question being asked is not the right one and this study is irrelevant for anything other than an academic exercise.

Thomas P. Walker - Kenai

Editor's Note: As we understand it, the discrepancy in numbers has to do with who is counted as an Alaska resident. The numbers you cite exclude Alaska residents who have not lived here long enough to buy a resident license. The new state numbers count those people as Alaska resident anglers. Hence, the new state numbers show more resident anglers.

Salvation Army doesn't adequately help family in need of assistance

In response to Russell White's Feb. 7 letter to the editor, I agree to only certain parts of his statements. I agree with Mr. White asking for the people to pray for Capt. Troy Trickel of The Salvation Army.

If Capt. Trickel is innocent of these charges of sexual abuse of minor children, for which he has been arrested, then I agree that we should pray for him. However, if Capt. Trickel is found guilty of these charges, then we need to pray that justice prevails and that Capt. Trickel be sent to prison like any other perverted child molester who is found guilty of such malicious acts, and I don't mean just a slap on the hand and transferred to some other Salvation Army location.

I totally disagree that The Salvation Army helps all the people who are down on their luck. I recently sent a married couple and their three children to The Salvation Army in Soldotna. They had just rented a three-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Kenai. These people had no furniture and no money for furniture. This family came back from The Salvation Army store in Soldotna with a half worn-out queen size mattress and two half worn-out twin mattresses, no frames or box springs, something to just flop on the floor. This is a fine example of how this Salvation Army store treats people that are in dire need of their help.

I went to this same Salvation Army store later on that same day and noticed that there were several full-size beds complete with box springs and frames stacked up in this same store. This family did not receive these beds, because The Salvation Army wanted to sell these beds. I also noticed price tags on numerous items throughout this store, and the prices that this store charges to the public are very little different than what you pay for new merchandise, even though all these items were donated free to this Salvation Army store.

I feel that The Salvation Army is a profitmaking organization, not a nonprofit organization as it makes out to the people to be.

James Bounds Kenai

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