The Kenai City Council is considering a change in municipal code to ban the burning of pallets on city beaches. The ordinance comes after complaints to the city about piles of nails and screws left behind on beaches, creating hazards for other beach users.
We agree that piles of nails in such a popular and well-used location pose a threat not just to people, but also to vehicles, pets, horses — not to mention wildlife, and applaud the city for taking steps to curb the problem. Indeed, beaches up and down the Kenai Peninsula are popular recreation spots. In addition to seasonal sport and commercial fishermen, beachgoers year-round are likely to encounter residents and visitors combing the beach for shells or agate; walking or running; exercising their dogs; riding horses, fat-tire bikes or ATVs; or just enjoying the view and getting some fresh air.
Walking through a pile of nails certainly impacts the enjoyment of those activities.
We’d also note that piles of debris left behind by a person or group of people using the beach constitutes littering, which under city code is punishable with a fine of $500. Discarded construction materials already are included in the city’s definition of refuse.
But we also realize that cleaning up piles of screws, nails and staples half-buried in the sand is not an easy task, and preventing the pile from accumulating in the first place is a more proactive solution.
We want all users to be able to continue to enjoy the Kenai beaches, and we’d rather not see things get to a point where a permit is required for a campfire. The ordinance under consideration would add the prohibition on burning pallets to the section of code governing camping, fires and other activities on city beaches, which regulates activities that could damage property, or threaten use and enjoyment of the beaches and public safety. Certainly, an activity that leaves behind hundreds of sharp objects falls into that category, too.
Our Kenai beaches are treasured by residents and visitors alike. The city of Kenai has gone to great lengths to protect them over the years, from parking improvements to fencing to protect sensitive dune areas. Prohibiting something with the potential to harm anyone else who uses the beach would seem to be a reasonable approach to maintaining one of the city’s greatest assets.