Letters to the Editor Some suggestions to strengthen plan for Chugach National Forest

Editor's Note: The following letter was written to Chugach National Forest officials and submitted for publication. Written comments on the revisions to the Chugach Land Management Plan are due by Dec. 14.

Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Here are my comments on your draft Land Management Plan. First of all, I'd like to congratulate your agency for emphasizing outdoor recreation and fishery habitat protection as important considerations on the Seward Ranger District.

I was, however, disappointed to learn at the public meeting in Soldotna on Nov. 17 that the district ranger is not recommending a single acre of the Chugach National Forest portion of the Kenai River watershed for wilderness consideration.

Here are my specific comments:

1. Your plan states that hydroelectric projects will maintain or restore stream flows, lake levels and water temperatures or mitigate for habitat losses (page 2-9). The Cooper Lake hydro project has greatly reduced stream flows and water temperatures in Cooper Creek. As a result the creek is no longer used as a spawning area by salmon and rainbow trout. Water level fluctuations on Cooper Lake have most likely reduced the lake's production of bottom fauna.

This lake was recently found to contain two morphological forms of Arctic char. This species spawns in the fall in Cooper Lake. Their eggs incubate over the winter and hatch in the spring. Winter water level draw downs may have adversely affected populations of normal sized Arctic char in Cooper Lake in the past. The dwarf Arctic char in Cooper Lake may be unique. The dwarf Arctic char has not been reported elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska and may be a candidate for special species designation.

Cooper Lake and nearby Char Lake are the only lakes known to contain Arctic char in the Chugach National Forest.

Is your agency planning to require the power company to mitigate for the loss of trout and salmon spawning habitat in Cooper Creek and the reduction of bottom fauna productivity in Cooper Lake?

2. The Upper and Lower Russian lakes and the Russian River are exceptionally productive aquatic habitats. The west half of the watershed is already protected in a wilderness area on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. In view of the importance of this watershed to the river's recreational fishery and as brown bear habitat, I would like to suggest that units K 233, K 234 and K 235 be considered for wilderness protection to prevent undesirable habitat alterations from incompatible uses. Your planning process appears to offer an excellent opportunity to provide permanent protection to both halves of the Russian River watershed.

3. The Chickaloon River watershed is the most productive small river draining the Kenai lowlands (Faurot and Dean, 1986. Chickaloon River Basin Fishery Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 70 pages, unpublished). In 1984, the Chickaloon River provided spawning habitat for nearly 120,000 salmon. The headwaters of several Chickaloon River tributaries are located on the Chugach National Forest. Your plan has these headwater tributaries listed as "back country prescription." I would like to suggest that your agency consider giving these tributary streams greater protection from habitat degradation. The units of concern are K 320, K 321, K 322, K 323, K 324, K 325, K 326 and K 327.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to comment on your plan.

Jack Dean

Retired fishery biologist

Sterling

Team effort, sense of community

contribute to project's success

The Kenai Peninsula Borough's Project Impact Star Community Award given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency was a wonderful recognition for the work of many. Since Project Impact was started in the spring of 1998, literally hundreds of people from all around the borough have participated in committee meetings, special events, assembly reports and disaster mitigation training. Our extensive partnership (too extensive to list here) is one of the most elaborate of the nation's 250 Project Impact communities. It is community involvement and the support from our partners that elevated our project to a position of national recognition.

Helen Donahue, vice chair of the borough's Local Emergency Planning Committee; Doug Newbould, forester and fire safety officer for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge; and Jan Henry, coordinator of the borough's Office of Emergency Management, participated with me as representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough at the Project Impact Summit 2000 in Washington, D.C., last month.

I had the privilege of speaking for our group to the conference attendees. When asked to name the elements contributing to our success, the response was 1) a dynamic team effort, 2) a strong sense of community and 3) our willingness to share work, resources and accolades for a job well done.

The seeds planted by FEMA's Project Impact grant award will live on in these and other forms:

n Wildfire mitigation through the FireWise Community Action Program, a cooperative effort of the Alaska Division of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, community fire departments and the Spruce Bark Beetle Task Force.

n Earthquake mitigation through the cooperation of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the borough's Public Works Department retrofitting suspended lighting fixtures, computers and remedying common classroom safety hazards.

n General mitigation through ongoing public education and awareness programs of the Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Office of Emergency Management

Yes, the Project Impact office will close March 31; however, the spirit of natural disaster mitigation spawned by this project will live on through the many advocates of disaster planning and mitigation. A Project Impact report to the community will be published and circulated in the early spring. Thank you to each and every one for your contributions of time, money and effort making this project a success.

Kathleen F. Scott

Kenai Peninsula Borough

Project Impact Coordinator

Ethic of people helping people

still alive on Kenai Peninsula

As a young girl, I lived on the Kenai. My roots are here. On my dad's side, my grandparents are Kenaitze, Emil and Maggie Dolchok. On my mom's side, my grandparents are Doris and Robert Walker.

I remembered this community as being one that works together and helps each other out. Even as a young girl I witnessed family members on both sides helping and being helped by neighbors and friends.

My husband and I have only been back in this area for a few months, but in that short time I have witnessed the sense of community that I remembered seeing as a girl. We are proud to say that we are part of the Kenai-Soldotna community.

Thank you also to the businesses who have generously donated to Head Start:

n Fred Meyer donated funds for fire extinguishers for families that did not have one in their home.

n The Kenai Fire Department donated smoke alarms for the Head Start families that did not have them.

n Safe-Kids donated car seats to parents who did not have them.

n Carrs Quality Center donated bags for Halloween costumes for the children, and allowed us to tour its facility.

n Kenai Community Library donated over 100 children's books, which we handed out to parents at a Family Fun Night.

n Kaladi Brothers Coffee donated a complete set of phonics books to our Family Fun Night. Thanks, Heidi Metteer.

n Many, many people donated to Head Start in memory of John Monfor.

n Dena'ina Health Clinic donated its dentist, who provided dental screenings for Head Start children at no cost to the parents.

Thank you to all you Kenai-tsian people who make this place what it is -- a community of caring, generous people.

Wanda Reams

Family service manager

Head Start program in Kenai



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