Peninsula Clarion editorial: More respect needed for our natural resources

  • Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:18pm
  • Opinion

Respect for our resources.

It’s a sentiment we Alaskans proclaim to embrace, but sometimes, it seems, it’s an ideal we have trouble living up to.

Case in point: the sockeye salmon sport fishery at the confluence of the Russian and upper Kenai rivers.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re thrilled to hear that the fish are in, and just as happy to see people from across the state come for a visit to catch them. The visitor industry is a crucial part of our local economy, whether those visitors are coming from near or far.

But if you walked through the Russian River Campground just a week ago, you would’ve seen a nearly pristine place to spend the night after a good day of fishing.

If you walk through the campground today, that isn’t the case. Where campsites were recently neat and tidy, the area is now strewn with empty cans and food wrappers.

Then there’s the fishing itself. Certainly, many anglers are able to land their limit and move along, sure to handle the fish with care and dispose of the carcass properly.

But there are too many fishery users who don’t show the same respect for a salmon run that has sustained people for thousands of years. You don’t need to look too hard to see fish handled carelessly. Fish that are to be caught and released, for example, should be landed quickly and never removed from the water. But how many times do you see an angler drag a fish up on the bank, rip out the hook and kick the fish back into the water?

The issue is hardly unique to the Russian River fishery; Kenai and Kasilof residents have been witnessing similar behavior in the annual personal-use fisheries for years. Salmon fever hits, and common courtesy is forgotten in the frenzy.

The truth, of course, is that the people who most need to hear this message are not reading this editorial. Indeed, you can generally find a person engaged in a detrimental practice doing it within sight of signs posted asking people to avoid that very practice.

So, what’s the solution? More enforcement? More education? A combination of those things?

For example, volunteers with the Stream Watch program have spent countless hours on the Kenai River over the past two decades, promoting good stewardship practices. And the Legislature has allocated funding for an additional State Wildlife Trooper presence on the Kenai Peninsula this summer.

Hopefully, more outreach and more enforcement will make a difference. But our last question is this: for a state so proud of and dependent upon our natural resources, shouldn’t we know better?

More in Opinion

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Sullivan’s irrelevance in defense of democracy

Two years ago this week, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol…