Kasilof special use comment period extended

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources are extending the public comment period on a plan to create a special use area near the mouth of the Kasilof River.

Raymond Keough, a natural resource manager with DNR's Division of Mining, Land and Water in Anchorage, said the agency extended the comment period deadline on the proposal to create the Kasilof River Special Use Area until 5 p.m. on Dec. 10.

The decision, made on Monday, came several hours before the comment period was originally slated to close.

Keough reported that the agency had received "several" requests that the deadline be extended.

Additionally, Keough said the agency was planning a public information meeting in the Wasilla area, though he said a date and a venue had not been determined as of Monday and would be posted on the agency's web site.

"There's been a good amount of comments," Keough said. "Generally the comments are positive."

State officials received a mixed, though sometimes emotional response from area residents when they presented their proposal at an informational meeting in Kasilof held in late October.

Keough said the agency has been battling some misconceptions regarding the proposal, specifically regarding user fees.

"There's been a big misconception that the department would restrict people's access to walk on the beach," he said. "If and when there was ever a user pay fee system, that would only be for the users of the fishery."

The designation of the special use area is an attempt by the agency to address high-pressure use issues that arise near the river mouth each summer during the personal-use fisheries.

The proposed unit would include 2,965 acres that encompass tidal and submerged lands. The boundaries would reach approximately four river miles upstream from the mouth and extend a mile north and south along the coast from the outlet, as well as west a ways into Cook Inlet.

Following the Dec. 10 close of the comment period, the agency will analyze and respond to the issues raised, after which it will issue a final special use decision that is subject to appeal.

For more information on the proposal or to submit comments online visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/kasilof/.

Keough said the web site may not be updated until later this week and thus may reflect incorrect information regarding the change to the comment period deadline.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.

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