Special use for a special place

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is proposing to designate the state-owned lands at the mouth of the Kasilof River as a "Special Use Area." Designating a Special Use Area is the only way the State of Alaska can set and enforce some basic rules to protect the area from the damage occurring there every summer from participants in the personal-use fisheries.

This came about because 17 groups sent a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell last February asking him to get the state to finally start doing something about the damage to the Kasilof River estuary (and private property in the area). These groups included Alaska Fly Fishers, Alaska Sportfishing Association, City of Kenai, City of Soldotna, Cook Inletkeeper, Kasilof Historical Society, Kenai Area Fisherman's Coalition, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association, Kenai Peninsula Marketing Tourism Council, Kenai River Professional Guides Association, Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Kenai Watershed Forum, Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee, Matanuska Valley Fish and Game Advisory Committee, South Central Alaska Dipnetters Association and United Cook Inlet Drifters Association.

The governor responded to the request. Agency and public meetings were held and the upshot was that the only way the State of Alaska can set and enforce basic rules to protect the area from damage is to designate a Special Use Area on the state-owned lands there. We asked for the state to fix the problem on their lands and this is the way to fix it.

We can quibble about the rules that they will apply to the area but the bottom line is that we need to have the Special Use Area designated in order to start protecting the wetlands, water quality and important salmon and waterfowl habitat currently at risk.

Catherine Cassidy, Kasilof

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