Public money should never skirt public process but that is exactly what is happening with millions of dollars currently being spent by Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA). The money is part of a several million dollar federal grant obtained from Sen. Ted Stevens. It was matched by dollars from the state of Alaska. KRSA put together a wish list for studies on the Kenai River and with the full cooperation of the Department of Fish and Game in Juneau, they are planning to conduct studies to achieve questionable goals.
A stakeholders meeting (was) set for March 30 to discuss arrangements. Guess what? No one from United Cook Inlet Drift Association (was) invited. Nor from Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association. Nor from any other Cook Inlet commercial fishing group. Nor from any dipnetter group. Nor from any Native group. This leaves more of a take-over group than a stakeholder group!
KRSA, readers may recall, was successful in stopping legislation that may have given life to the highly successful Tustumena Lake sockeye stocking project. Several years ago Bob Penney started a lawsuit to kick Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association out of this 30-year stocking project. When the lawsuit eventually won in a California court, Ted Stevens drafted legislation to continue the popular, successful project, but Ron Rainey of KRSA sent a letter asking Stevens to remove his new legislation, which he did.
Local expertise in the form of current Fish and Game biologists as well as retired, local biologist such as Loren Flagg, Paul Ruesch and Ken Tarbox are not invited to the table. Is it the American way to exclude people whose opinions differ from KRSA? Public money is YOUR money.
Nikiski’s Mike Chenault chairs a finance committee through whom all state money must pass. Don’t be quiet.
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