The outside billionaires inundating the airwaves, social media and newspapers with ads are telling us that the problems with salmon returns are all in the ocean and that somehow we don’t need to be concerned with habitat issues.
While I agree that management decisions and ocean conditions need to be addressed as well, it seems absurd to ignore threats to salmon habitat.
Let me list a few obvious examples of how a better permitting process would have helped salmon stocks here in Soldotna and the nearby region.
Look at the Crooked Creek culvert on the Sterling Highway. For years the hanging culvert has prevented up migration of juvenile and perhaps some adult salmon in one of our critical habitat streams. Take a little time the next time you drive over that section of road to stop and look at the huge pool underneath that hanging culvert and wonder how that affects salmon trying to swim upstream, especially the little ones trying to find a winter home up Crooked Creek.
Look at the riprap dumped in the Upper River at milepost 57. Was there any consideration for salmon habitat in that project? Do they really expect us to believe that salmon can spawn in that area or that wiping out a little more spawning habitat has no effect on Kenai river runs?
We have dewatered Cooper Creek for hydro power and figured that the kings that used to spawn there were somehow extra and not really needed because: how could the Kenai king run ever become endangered?
Do you think the development projects on the Kenai river had any consideration for the impact on salmon habitat?
All these examples are in our own backyard, in our lifetime. It seems obvious that we need a change in our ancient statute that allowed all these projects to move forward without any regard for the salmon habitat.
Please don’t label me as anti-development; I love having roads, electricity and houses. It is just that we currently don’t have any sound rules that apply to these projects, and until we do, we will likely continue to make more mistakes than we need to.
Please vote Yes on Ballot Measure 1 and put some sensible balance into proposed projects.
— Edward A Schmitt MD, Soldotna