Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

Kenai River being politicized by equivalent of carpetbaggers

I have watched recent developments concerning the Kenai River and have become embarrassed and ashamed to be a "local." Like most of the people I know that "live" here (longer than the length of the salmon runs), I have abdicated my responsibility to the community.

I gave up on the Kenai River years ago. Most of us discovered we couldn't compete for a piece of water with the guides and left for more open salt water or trout fishing. I don't believe the function provided the clients of these people can be called guiding, I believe it is more akin to a hired gun.

I got rid of my 35 and now only go back to the river when a relative is visiting and familial guilt sets in.

Recent letters in this forum and news stories illustrate this phenomenon ad nauseam. From the Anchorage gentleman getting blown off the river by gunslingers' boats, to Mr. Tarbox and his eloquent entreaty concerning the falsehoods and political shenanigans of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and the "smirk" Kenai River Classic. If that isn't an oxymoronic name, I'll eat my waders.

The point is we need to wake up. This is no longer about mourning the loss of our childhood fishing holes, it's about the loss of the reason we live here. The river is not only the central watershed, it is the biological cornerstone to this particular place on earth.

There is room for the visitor here and I have enjoyed the summer diversity of personalities as well the opportunity to show off a piece of the world I love.

But as long as we allow the local equivalent of carpetbaggers to politicize the biology, suborn the local identity and control access to a resource that as is our moral right and responsibility to use and manage, there is none to blame but ourselves.

I have been asked repeatedly lately to recommend a guide for personal-use dipnetting! That's how sewn up the river is; people assume the only way to get near the water is to pay the tribute.

Local use and true biological community- based management must be returned to the central peninsula. We as commercial fishers, sports fishers, personal-use fishers and anyone who lives and recreates here need to find our voice, create our forum and differentiate ourselves from the "bad guys who run the river."

Either that or I say we put a fence around the whole thing, put in turnstiles and get our piece. At least the money would stay here. Any ideas?

Scott Misner , Kasilof

First Amendment leaves decision on religion in hands of states

I appreciate the Clarion's recent coverage of the controversy over the Pledge of Allegiance. I would like to add a few clarifying remarks.

When the Constitution was implemented in 1789, a few states (which ones and how many is unimportant) had in place a tax-supported religion, specifically the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, if memory serves me correctly. This did not last long, as within a decade these states had voluntarily divested themselves of such a burden.

The experience of history has demonstrated that when a church "enjoys" official state support, it becomes moribund, not healthy and vibrant. In all likelihood, the history of American Christianity would be far more tepid had these states kept the status quo. Perhaps the abolition of slavery, child labor temperance and other 19th century reforms (some admittedly still controversial) would never have succeeded with stagnant and stale official government churches.

Not that America's faith is something to brag about, yet a lively competition of religions in our society has probably contributed to the healthier status of Christianity than exists in either the culturally Protestant or Catholic nations of Europe today.

Yet, the point to make here is that the First Amendment completely left the decision of religion in the hands of the states, which is where it would remain if we really decided to obey the "supreme law of the land" that all federal officials are sworn to uphold.

And, a word about the Pledge. The phrase "under God" is really its only redeemable part. I can sympathize with those who point out that the pledge almost smacks of an indoctrination of blind loyalty to "The Government," which is not something that any free citizen should aspire to. And the words "indivisible" were inserted as a backhand to states' rights and what Southerners called at the time "The Late Unpleasantness" (read: the Civil War). The question of secession, decided by blood and sword in the 1860s rather than constitutional scholarship or historical research, means that the good old United States of America is really a union by force, something that was never a precondition of joining ... if we were to truly accept the Constitution in all its brilliant original intent.

And so it goes.

Robert M. Bird, Kenai

Why is it now OK to slaughter fish that were protected in June?

Most of these kings are tributary spawners, and they stage in large numbers at the mouth of the Killey River, Slikok Creek and Funny River through all of July.

Ironically, these "sanctuary areas" open to harvest with bait on July 15. Without additional restrictions, the ensuing bloodbath will further diminish the already ailing escapement. By simply extending the existing closures in these sanctuaries out to July 31, hundreds of early run kings will be saved from harvest to spawn.

If it was so important to save these fish in June that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was willing bring an entire fishery and economy to its knees, why would it allow those very same fish to be slaughtered in July? Was it really worth it?

Call or write Kelly Hepler, Bob Clark, Barry Stratton and Mark Gamblin at Fish and Game for their answer. Come on, guys! Deprived anglers, fishing guides and impoverished local businesses deserve better. So do the fish!

Francis Estalilla, Former Kenai resident , Aberdeen, Wash.

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