Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

Public must participate to change early-run management of kings

I am extremely optimistic that the public will provide enough input to the local Fish and Game Advisory Committee, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Board of Fisheries to reach a better regulation for the management of the early run of chinook salmon in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

Both rivers must be addressed because of their close proximity to each other and what affects one river tends to affect the other. This has never been evidenced better than by the results of this past year's closing of the Kenai to fishing for early run chinook and then the fishermen moving in mass to fish the Kasilof River, a river smaller and with less fish than the Kenai.

So, just what are some of the issues to debate?

Foremost is why there is such a dismal return of chinook in the rivers. Second, is how to best deal with the problem.

Several people with a vested interest in the economic returns and not the fish returns have derailed the process at the cost of the fish. The commercial guiding industry has now reached numbers so high that for most local fishermen both runs of chinook are not feasible due to overcrowding, less fish in-river (due in large part to the guided industry's ability to catch up to 90 percent of the fish retained), and the ability of special interest groups to influence the Board of Fish decisions.

Most local sport fishermen are acutely aware of the situation, but are they willing to make a stand and attend to business? We will find out soon.

I have compiled a list of ideas from local sport fishermen that seem to reflect the current attitude toward the aforementioned problems. There is unanimous consent that there are too many guides (more than 300 on the Kenai of which 75 percent claim residency). There is unanimous consent that certain special interest groups have too much ability to influence the decisions made by the Board of Fish. (This speaks to a problem in the process.)

When the Board of Fish passes regulations the Department of Fish and Game then has to follow the direction of the board in managing the fishery. The regulations passed by the board should reflect the views of the public supported by the local advisory committee with biological data provided by Department of Fish and Game biologists and is supposedly in keeping with the "sustainable yield" philosophy.

This is not what has taken place during the previous board meeting and therein lays our current situation. What will the board do about the public outcry over the catch-and-release fishery management policies currently passed? How can we limit or reduce the number of guides? Are we actually going to have to close the rivers to all fishing? How do we hold those in management positions accountable?

The answer to these questions may be answered with the public's input at the forums and meetings being held locally. Please be sure to pick the forum carefully and ask the convening party who will be moderating and who is funding it. At this point in the game, attending the forum that will best provide an objective moderated event is all important. There will be no change made to help the fish return in better numbers thus helping the local angler wanting the chance to harvest the surplus if there are no local anglers that participate.

If you can't attend one or more of the forums being held, you still have the opportunity to let board members know how you feel by writing to them. The next meeting of the Board of Fish that will take up the early-run chinook regulations will be in March 2003. Attend the meeting and testify before the board, if you can. Until then, attend local advisory committee meetings. These are some of the ways we as sport fishermen can effect change.

Please have faith in the local advisory committee's ability to represent you. That there is a history of the Board of Fish and many locals who do not pay much credence to the advisory committee can and will change. The advisory committee's role in the process is a very important one.

One of the ways in which it will change is when local sport fishermen attend our meetings and voice their opinions and actually run for seats. This December there will be at least seven seats up for election. So, if you would like the advisory committee to have more sport fishing voices, then run for one of the seats. The commercial fishing representatives on the advisory committee are not the evil "commies." They are made out to be but, in fact, they have been very open to my input, that of the public and the input of the Department of Fish and Game biologists. We all agree that the welfare of the fish should come first and that is more than I can say for other groups claiming to represent sport fishermen.

The main point of my letter is to build the fire under local sport fishermen so that the level of input generates the ideas crucial for the Board of Fish to hear and hopefully have a management system ensuring the fish have a chance to return in numbers that will allow us to harvest a few.

If we do not participate, then you can expect the out-of-state interests and special interest groups locally to continue to determine what the Board of Fisheries hears and acts on. Worst of all, the chinook may disappear forever. I refuse to sit idle and let it take place.

The next Kenai-Soldotna advisory committee meeting is Nov. 7 at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association building at 7 p.m. The local forums are scheduled as follows: the Alaska Department of Fish and Game-sponsored forum was Tuesday at the Kenai River Center at 7 p.m. and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association-sponsored and funded public meeting will be Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. on at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building.

Porter W. Pollard


Hal, Susan Smalley deserve recognition for their generosity

In our small community there is always a family or individual in need of help. And quietly without praise, a few step forward and help. The Kenai-Soldotna area has such a couple that needs to be recognized for their continuous giving to others.

I have been fortunate to know and work with them for a long time. Stop by a Habitat for Humanity house construction site and there they are pounding nails or feeding the volunteer teams dinner. Visit the Alternative School and they are there supplying, preparing and serving breakfast to the students, month after month. She is at monthly meetings of the Global Board of Missions serving the needs of less fortunate people around the nation and around the world. He has served as coach to hundreds of our local kids in track, swimming and football. As a leader he volunteered for the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission and served on the Kenai City Council for many years.

There is not enough room for me to list all of the groups and individuals they have helped -- all while raising their children here.

While many give lip service to helping others in our community, this couple practices what they believe.

If giving back to the community makes a good volunteer, then this family should be called the volunteers of the decade.

I'm writing about Hal and Susan Smalley. You need to get to know this fine Christian couple. They have my respect and admiration. And on Nov. 5, Hal will have my vote. I want a Christian to represent me in Juneau next year.

Dean J. Castimore


Voters who continue to re-elect Sen. Ward are not paying attention

The charges made by "Kenai Peninsula Citizens for Honest Government Opposed to Anchorage Senator Jerry Ward" in the two page advertisement printed in the Peninsula Clarion on Oct. 11 are serious ones. While not all of them concern recent actions by Sen. Ward, they all bear directly on his character, and I would have thought that he would dispute them specifically, if he can prove that they are untrue. He has characterized the charges made by this group as "throwing mud."

According to the advertisement, certain legal records concerning past actions of Sen. Ward that are in dispute can be released to public scrutiny only by Sen. Ward. If the charges being made against him are untrue, I would think that he would be willing to release these records, in order to back up this argument. Why won't he do so?

Sen. Ward runs as a fiscal conservative and states frequently that the answer to the state's financial problems is to cut state spending. My family has received a campaign mailing from him in which he claims credit for having brought funding for many state projects to the district in which he is currently running for re-election to the state Senate. This seems to me a contradiction, but I'm sure he will make some glib and nonsensical argument in an attempt to dismiss it, as he does to most criticism.

He was an early backer of the proposal to build a private prison in the Kenai area (Remember? It was only last year) but as it became more and more obvious that area residents were strongly opposed to the proposal, he backed away his public support for it. The voters shot it down by something like a three-to-one margin, and while a few local politicians continued to support it the day after the election, most of them seem happy not to have the subject mentioned.

Sen. Ward seems to be very popular among a number of local residents, who are concerned that they continue to receive their annual permanent fund dividend checks and not have to pay any new state taxes. He tells them what they want to hear, and I am sure they will vote to re-elect him to the state Senate. It should be obvious to the most casual observer that the present situation, balancing the annual state budget by withdrawing several hundred million dollars from the state's budget reserve fund, cannot continue much longer.

Legislators like Sen. Ward, who assure Alaskans that we can continue to live in a fool's paradise without serious adverse effects to the state's economy and to the basic needs of all Alaskans, are acting irresponsibly. Voters who elect (and re-elect) them are not paying attention, or are equally irresponsible. It seems that we will have to experience the painful effects of drastically cutting state spending more than it already has been before we "wake up and smell the coffee."

The candidates opposing Sen. Ward's re-election seem to be making an ineffectual effort. There is an old saying in politics, "You can't beat something with nothing." Sen. Ward's "something" seems to be based on incumbency, name recognition and the unwillingness of voters to examine his past record and determine whether the course of action he advocates makes sense on the basis of facts, and not emotion.

I hope they will pay more attention, and think carefully about the choice they will be making at the polls in just a couple of weeks. The kind of community we will be living in for the next four years, and beyond that, will be determined by the people we elect to state office in that election.

Jerry Brookman

45-year Alaska resident,

24-year Kenai resident

Elections pamphlet glitch shows how Ulmer will run state's affairs

If Fran Ulmer intends to run the affairs of this state in the same manner as she is running the elections, then we are indeed in a world of hurt. Isn't it interesting that when a department under Fran Ulmer's jurisdiction does something "good," she takes all the credit? However, when the elections board recently made a "$95,000 goof," then it is the staff that has to take the heat. All of a sudden, Ulmer is magically not responsible. In reality, the entire election process is directly under the responsibility of Fran Ulmer.

Perhaps if the $95,000 was taken from the salaries of all the Division of Elections employees, including Fran Ulmer's salary, they would be more careful and accountable.

The Knowles-Ulmer administration has done everything in its power to skew the elections, from the entire subject of redistricting to this $95,000 goof. House District 33 was designed specifically to give Hal Smalley a win; however, Kelly Wolf is campaigning hard and just may upset those carefully laid plans.

In this time of budget problems, we can ill afford these "glitches," as the elections department calls them.

According to an Oct. 19 story, Janet Kowalski and Virginia Breeze say this has been a "trying year for the elections board." The story also stated that 443 of a total of 446 voting precincts had to be redrawn. Does this not smack of being a bit excessive? Surely not that many people moved into different districts. It is more plausible to believe this was specifically designed by the Knowles-Ulmer administration to be confusing and to hand certain previously conservative areas to Democrats. Perhaps if the Knowles-Ulmer administration had not redistricted the state in such a confusing way, the staff would have been able to figure it all out and do it right.

Ulmer says the good news is that this mistake can be remedied -- to the tune of $95,000 of your tax dollars.

Wouldn't you rather have this money go to fix your road, reopen the Ninilchik DOT or reopen a park? As my dad used to say, "It is nothing a little money can't fix." And in this case, it is your tax dollars which will be taken to fix this glitch, goof, mistake or mailing miscue.

It is time to get this state back on track by electing Frank Murkowski for governor, by re-electing Sen. Jerry Ward for Senate District Q and by electing Kelly Wolf for House District 33.

Judith L. McKinley


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