Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

Limited entry for guides would solve crowding on Kenai River

For the past several days much has been written concerning the guides overpopulating the Kenai River. Well, folks, that's a fact.

If you spend anytime at all on the river from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, May through July, I'm sure you'll have to agree with me on that point. And, yes, I have a lot of friends who work as guides on the Kenai with a vested interest in our community.

I spent seven years, many years ago when there were about three dozen commercial operators, running a guide service. I've lived on the banks of the river for the past 28 years. I fish a lot and do my fair share of catching. But, I also fish from 3:30 until 6 a.m. and after 6:30 p.m. on guided fishing days during king season.

If you are a private boat operator, I needn't tell you why I fish when I do as you, too, are probably fishing the same hours. If you are one of the handful of guides who has thrown in the towel as the number of guides swelled, I needn't bore you with the details either.

I have a real tough time listening to the rhetoric that basically boils down to: "This is how I make a living and I have to be out there fishing!" I know quite a few oil field workers who are making a living now outside the oil field as the number of people exceeded the size of the pie everyone was eating. I keep hearing that this is a tough issue to solve.

Well, I personally believe this is a solvable situation. The solution is limited entry done much in the same manner as the commercial fishery was limited in Cook Inlet, as well as other areas of the state, years ago.

It became obvious that a finite, renewable resource could not stand unchecked entry by anyone who wanted to commercially fish this resource and still be managed for sustained returns. Simply put, the fishery needed to be limited. A fisherman provided his past historical record of participation in the fishery, points were awarded a permit.

Out of the question? I don't think so. A commercial fishery is a commercial fishery. If you are paid to fish, it's commerce. A finite resource is a finite resource. This is not rocket science, it's common sense.

There have been other suggestions and proposals that merit attention. The idea of spreading out the guides by having them declare an area to fish and being limited to that area, aside from spreading out the guide boats, would have eliminated what just transpired this year on the Kasilof River as it was descended upon en mass when the Kenai was closed. Single trips rather than the two a days would be a step in the right direction for the Kenai River.

Sorry, but the loss of income issue just won't fly. You raise your price per person. Would it not be better to fish on a somewhat more limited basis at a higher cost to a client than not to fish at all as in the past couple of weeks?

The bottom line to all of this is that a problem exists. The problem needs to be addressed and is going to have to be addressed. The philosophy that unrestricted entry into guiding will take care of itself is not the answer, it's part of the problem.

It's time to come up with a realistic solution so that all users of the Kenai River can continue to enjoy the area so many of us call "our" river.

George "Mac" McDowell, Soldotna

Property owners deserve answers to questions about utility district

Subject: Resolution 2002-070 Tote Road and Echo Lake Road Utility Special Assessment District

The purpose of this letter is to express my objections concerning the way the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Enstar are handling the above resolution. I have several concerns and questions that I feel should be addressed before this project moves forward.

First of all, Why should individuals who don't want natural gas brought to their property be required to pay for it? I believe each person should be assessed an equitable fee when they choose to connect to the proposed pipeline, not before.

The other utilities in this area, namely Homer Electric Association and Alaska Communications Systems, don't assess property owners when they install new service lines to an area until the individual requests they be connected. Only then do customers pay for that utility. HEA requires a promissory note on costs under $5,000, anything over $5,000 requires securities.

Payment amount and length of time to pay the assessed charges are figured on an individual basis, not announced to the property owner, at the whim of the borough and the involved utility! Has the borough informed the involved property owners how much the proposed natural gas line will increase property values and therefore property taxes?

Are you aware that an increase of $230 or more per year may create a valid financial hardship for some families? Have the borough and Enstar applied for and received the necessary permits from the Environmental Protection Agency for crossing wetlands? Have the necessary easement and right of way requirements been met?

This situation is reminiscent of the private prison issue, in which the borough and a few politicians tried to force their skewed numbers and views down the throats of the general population. The questions I have raised are valid concerns and deserve to be addressed.

As a voter, taxpayer and landowner in this area, I feel that the borough and Enstar need to rethink their dictator tactics and provide reasonable answers and information to the majority of the citizens affected by this project, instead of pandering to a few select individuals who stand to profit from it.

Lowell Vavra, Kasilof

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