With great salmon comes great responsibility

  • Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:19pm
  • Opinion

We live in a community that prizes

its salmon runs. This past Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly proved that with its actions on an ordinance that would have rolled back habitat protections on anadromous waters.

Since the ordinance’s introduction in 2011 and subsequent challenges, amendments and rewrites since then, the argument has been framed as a conflict between the need for healthy salmon rearing habitat and the rights of property owners to develop their property as they see fit.

The habitat protection measure, among other things, establishes a 50-foot setback from the water’s edge in which development has been restricted.

The ordinance voted down by the Assembly on Tuesday would have scaled back the habitat protections from anadromous streams across the borough to just the Kenai River and Kasilof River watersheds.

In many ways, communities across the borough are at a crossroads. Subdivisions are growing as more and more people continue to come to the Kenai Peninsula for the quality of life it offers. Certainly, part of the attraction has always been fishing on pristine waters.

Continued development will have an impact. Doing things the way they’ve been done in the past is no longer an option. We as a community need to look forward, and we need to have a plan in place that guides future development in a way that preserves what we have now.

We agree with assembly member Blaine Gilman, who said he did a fair amount of research on riparian habitat before voting to keep the current anadromous waters protections in place.

“It’s not the right reaction to just go for one water body and say ‘oh, it’s distressed and we should put regulations on it.’ It should be a preventative measure,” Gilman told the Clarion. “It’s good for the health of the streams.”

Yes, there is still room for tweaking the regulations as to what is permitted within the 50-foot setback. There are things property owners should reasonably be able to do near the water’s edge, such as posting a “Private Property” sign, that just weren’t accounted for in the ordinance.

But the message we take from the assembly’s decision is that living on a body of water where salmon rear comes with a responsibility to be a good steward of the resource.

More in Opinion

Charlie Franz.
Point of View: Election integrity is not anti-democratic

The federalization of elections by the Freedom to Vote Act infringes on the constitutional right of states to regulate elections.

Snow blows off Mt. Roberts high above the Thane avalanche chute, where an avalanche blew across the road during a major snowstorm. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
An Alaska winter of discontent

It’s been a hard winter throughout the state.

A Uncruise Adventures cruise ship, with a fleet of kayaks in the water behind it, in the Tongass National Forest. Uncruise, a boutique local cruise ship operator, has been vocal about the importance of the intact Tongass National Forest, or SeaBank, to its business. (Photo by Ben Hamilton/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: The dividends paid by Southeast Alaska’s ‘Seabank’ are the state’s untold secrets

Southeast Alaska’s natural capital produces economic outputs from the seafood and visitor products industries worth several billion dollars a year

Opinion: The pulse of fealty

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Voices: Permanent fund integrity in peril?

Alaskans need to be kept informed of what the trustees are doing with their money.

A cast member holds up a cue card in Soldotna High School’s production of "Annie" on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Is theater dead?

“It will not be an easy task, performing CPR on this theater, but imagine the joy that you could bring to the students.”

Bjørn Olson (Photo provided)
Point of View: Homer Drawdown moves forward with climate-change solutions

Two years ago, a small group of concerned citizens decided to use this book as a guiding document

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21 in Kenai, Alaska.
Voices of the Peninsula: Fight for democracy

When the Insurrection occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, it was a direct attack on our democratic rule of law.

Most Read