Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003

Clarion failed to give adequate coverage to Governor's Ball

I would like to comment on Judith McKinley's letter printed in today's Clarion (Feb. 10). I, too, had the privilege of attending the Governor's Ball, and was very dismayed Sunday morning when there was no mention of it in the paper. I thought surely there would be mention in Monday's paper but low and behold, again, nothing.

Laughingly, I told my husband that the Clarion must be owned by a Democrat. Then, I seemed to remember that the Clarion is not owned by locals. If someone outside our community owns the newspaper, wouldn't one think they would at least try to cover all community news to show community support?

This was not only a big event, it was news-worthy. Had the Clarion done any investigative reporting, they would have found that this was the first time a Governor's Ball was held on the Kenai Peninsula. They would have found this was one of seven balls being held around the state. They could have allowed their readers to make his or her own opinions about how they felt about an event of this magnitude coming to our community. They could have reported on all the hard work done by our locals to bring this event here. And the readers could have been as surprised as I was at the lovely venue.

Shame on you, Peninsula Clarion, for ignoring this event. You are showing your "true colors."

Rebecca Davis


Board of Fisheries contributes to current Kenai River controversy

Since the heart of the economy is so connected to fish, some of the real questions of stewardship need to be addressed. In particular the latest discussion seems to be focused on the early run Kenai king salmon.

How can the impact of the Deep Creek coastal marine king fishery be ignored? More data is needed. Certainly kings from both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers are being caught, but how many?

The loss of 12 percent of spawning habitat and the fact that 90 percent of the river erosion is caused by outboard motors should sound some alarm for action. The wake study has been in the works for 10 years. Ask Kelly Hepler about $50,000 for the wake study that was removed for halibut meetings. Ask the Board of Fish about its zero-net-loss policy. Oh, that's right, you can't ask the board questions.

How does an in-river derby mitigate the same damage it helps create? The entry of second run Kenai kings is alleged to begin July 1, which might be true. However, fish caught in the river on that date have to be from the early run. The Kenai River Classic started on the first of July in 2002. Restrictions were taken off. Classic fishermen hooked over 309 kings, released 239 kings and retained 70 kings. The minimum escapement for early Kenai kings is 7,200. In 2002, 7,000 kings escaped.

On hook and release, just how smart is it to target brood stock or the large trophy fish that are in a dramatic state of decline?

These are some of my heartfelt concerns, and I certainly hope the Board of Fish and all the crafty policy-makers employ their collective bravehearts and brains to reverse the current crisis on the Kenai.

John McCombs


Wrestling tournament a success despite logistical hurdles

I read your article by Jeff Helminiak regarding the relationship between the Alaska State Activities Association, Anchorage/Fairbanks, the Kenai Peninsula and Southeast and came away feeling assured that there is at least one more person in the world that feels as I do.

I have coached wrestling in Kake for 15 years, and, in that time, I have had three home events. Many of my wrestlers have never had their parents see them wrestle because they could not afford to travel with us to watch.

I have asked, nay, begged, my fellow coaches during this time to allow me to have a home event on the schedule. The answer is always the same. Too expensive and too hard to get into Kake. Welcome to my world.

At no time have I held this against my fellow coaches. I know how hard it is to get into and out of Kake, we have done it for years. It costs me the same amount to get in and out as it does for one to come in and go. This does not stop me from asking, nor does it stop me from going to other places and competing.

When in these other places, I always help, in any way that I can, to allow the tournaments to run smoother.

This, the helping things run smoother, is what this letter is about. Without going into the stale story about the difficulties that the schools had getting to Ketchikan, I offer this thought.

Once all schools were in attendance, I am hard pressed to recall a statement or action that anyone made to make the tournament stumble. You see, I was one of the announcers and attended the seeding meeting, coaches meeting and almost every minute of the tournament in between and after those meetings.

Once the whistle blew to start the first match, we were all on the same page. Wrestle. It seems to me that this is the common bond in the "Lampoonish" dysfunctional relationship that we have with each other.

I would like to commend the wrestlers and coaches from all schools in attendance at the state tournament in Ketchikan. They were awesome. My hat goes off to those parents who made the commitment to go to the tournament with their children. I know the sacrifices that had to be made. I feel sorry for the parents who did not get to see their children wrestle in "the most important match of their careers." My parents from here know your pain.

Finally, Doug Gregg, as the tournament director, put together an awesome state tournament. He is to be commended.

The common bond is wrestling. Let us remember this.

Rick Mills

Former logger believes Southeast rain forests must be protected

Not so long ago, I earned my living as a big time timber cutter throughout Southeast Alaska's island-studded Tongass National Forest. We were paid by the 1,000 board feet -- or as it's known in the industry, by the "bushel."

I worked hard and made nothing but money and muscle for myself. Each day I would walk alone into that temperate coastal rain forest, rich with its carpet of mosses, ferns, lichens and skunk cabbage leaves big enough for a full grown logger to hide behind. Today, I can close my eyes and still see those massive Sitka spruce, western hemlock, western red and Alaska yellow cedar trees towering overhead, without even a single limb for 100 feet up, forming a giant cathedral-like protective ceiling, shielding all below from the wind, snow, rain and sun. Then, I'd cut those 300-year-old giants all down.

Eventually, I recognized the greedy selfishness of my chosen employment. Heck, even my own children would never get to experience the magic of these places if I kept this up.

Today, I guide people throughout that same forest and get to watch their childlike smiles appear upon discovering such a wild wonderland. Today, I make more than just money and muscle. I get to make friends, too.

Alaskans, let's protect what little is left of our temperate coastal rain forests. Let's stop the assaults on our precious wild back yards. Not only will our children and friends appreciate this, it also makes economic sense. Alaskans, wake up and evolve before it's too late.

Captain Dean Rand


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