Kasilof Special Use is bad idea

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rahm Emanuel is quoted as telling Pres. Obama, "Don't ever let a good crisis go to waste." The state Department of Natural Resources has embraced this concept in their unsupported approach to form the Kasilof Special Use Area.

Hundreds of Kasilof-Cohoe property owners are being disenfranchised and will forever be impacted by DNR's decision to create a 3,000-acre SUA. DNR has conducted only one serious meeting with local residents and a 45-day comment period is up Nov. 15. As the final arbiter, only DNR will render a final decision on the SUA. Residents should encourage DNR to postpone the final decision to allow at least minimal studies and more input by local residents.

There are approximately 100 parcels bordering the proposed SUA boundaries. Most residents along the boundary and within the Kasilof/Cohoe area are not aware DNR is proposing to expand the 3,000-acre problem area at the mouth of the river into a 3,000-acre "park-like SUA." They are also not aware of DNR's intention to impose numerous regulations within the park's boundary and their future plans for this area.

The letters and "overwhelming" evidence referenced by DNR in the draft decision has never been revealed to the public for comment. At this point in the process, it is all hearsay and unsupported opinions. If they follow this same process, residents will never see any evidence or be able to review and comment on the opinions given to DNR in the 45-day process. This is bad public policy and a double standard. No permit application or proposal to the state would ever be considered without credible supporting evidence.

Sixteen groups have been quoted by the DNR and in letters to the Clarion, as requesting DNR to resolve sanitation and habitat issues. I am sure, none of them were proposing a 3,000-acre land grab, which according to the draft decision could be a precursor to "creating a special river management area, that would include the entire river system." Now, you could have hundreds of additional residents affected by this SUA.

This fishery has been around for 30 years. It is nothing but a knee jerk reaction to demand a permanent fix without the benefit of feasibility studies and working with local residents. Residents and readers are encouraged to read the 43-page draft decision. Go to the internet and Google, Kasilof special use area draft decision. We don't need more "Obamacare-type legislation" where Congress passed the bill just to see what was in the bill. No one can argue the obvious need to protect the habitat at the mouth and provide sanitation solutions. It's the fast track method that is unacceptable. The possible long term impacts on residents along the park boundary far exceeds immediate concerns, which can be mitigated by simple temporary solutions.

Terry Cowart, Kasilof

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