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Thread: Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Ordiance June 18, 2013

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    Default Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Ordiance June 18, 2013

    The Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) is holding their Assembly meeting on June 18th at 6 PM at the Kenai Borough Building. On the agenda are two ordinances that impact salmon habitat. The first 2013-12 introduced by Kelly Wolf would repeal the existing 50 riparian buffer along salmon streams and lakes (there is nearly 3000 miles of salmon streams in the KPB). The second ordinance is 2013-18 which is the product of a mayor task force, who took 8 months to finish a complete review with public testimony. It maintains the 50 foot riparian buffer on all salmon waters put does allow some conditional use for private property owners. The KPB Planning Commission reviewed 2013-18 and passed its approval while rejecting Mr. Wolf's ordinance.

    Both of these ordinances can be found at http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assem...-meetings/2013

    I served on the task force and I can tell everyone that there is a significant effort to repeal the riparian zone protection. Even a national organization representing real estate brokers have done a KPB mailing asking for a full repeal. Local opposition is coming from some property owners who feel this is a takings of property (it is not according to legal opinions and past court cases).

    So if you support salmon and salmon habitat protection/conservation there is no better way than to contact the KPB Assembly via emails to Johni Blankenship ( jblankenship@borough.kenai.ak.us she is the clerk and will get the emails to the Assembly). It should be done ASAP. Also, if people will get their fishing organizations or groups to send support that would be great.

    Even better for local residents is to show up and testify in favor of 2013-18. I do not think I need to make a case for riparian habitat protection. The ADF&G recommends a minimum of 100 feet along salmon streams and the KPB only has 50 feet. I could not get the votes for 100 feet in our meetings. So this is a minimum protection but still vital for the long term health of the resource.

    I might point out that significant habitat degradation is on-going on these streams and until this 2013-18 passes it will continue. For example in our hearings we heard that oil companies want to cut down riparian vegetation to drive large seismic equipment across streams. With 2013-18 they would have to use alternative methods for crossing streams that protect vegetation. Land owners are cutting vegetation right down to the stream and lake banks and the resultant pollution and sedimentation has a direct route to the waters. Loss of salmon habitat is taking place at an increased rate as our KPB population has gone from 10,000 people to over 50,000 and continues to grow.

    So the choice is simple - salmon habitat and the economy it runs on or full private property rights so you can do anything you want to the riparian area along a salmon stream or lake.

    I hope people on this forum take the time to write an email or show up in person. This is a major decision for the future.

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    Rep headed your way!

    Thanks for the post.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    We discuss, debate, argue, and fight over alot of fish management issues on this BB, but this issue should be high on everyone's list of concerns. This should unite everyone who cares about the Kenai Peninsula, and it's fishery resources. Pacific salmon have demostrated repeatedly that they can bounce back from heavy exploitation (ocean, freshwater, commercial, recreational, PU, etc), but ONLY if high quality freshwater habitat is available for them to spawn and rear the juveniles. The future of the fishery resources of the Kenai Rv (all of them) depends on retaining and protecting the available habitat. So, for the moment, we should put aside ocean bycatch, SHM's, gill nets, C/R, C/K, overescapements, underescapements, and everything else we argue about. This issue needs to be addressed by everyone who values the Kenai Rv fishery resources, but primarily by the good folks who live in the Great Land.

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    . . . . . don't forget turbidity and hydrocarbon pollution . . .

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    Water quality is a critical component of fish habitat. Indeed, it is perhaps the most important component. As development along the Kenai Rv continues, it's likely the folks who build on its banks will want access to the water (boat launches), and the ability to enjoy the water without having to row. As such, as shoreline development goes, so does boating access (likely powerboats). Shoreline development and water access are directly and closely related. So, as shoreline development is made easier, the number of powerboats on the river will increase in direct proportion. So yes, you are very correct - tubidity and hydrocarbon are concerns now, and this concern may increase in the future depending on the amount of shoreline development.

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    Dang it, I hate it when I have to agree with nerka (it happens so rarely).

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    Wink Another dead poet . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    . . As development along the Kenai Rv continues, it's likely the folks who build on its banks will want access to the water (boat launches), and the ability to enjoy the water without having to row. As such, as shoreline development goes, so does boating access (likely powerboats). Shoreline development and water access are directly and closely related. So, as shoreline development is made easier, the number of powerboats on the river will increase in direct proportion. So yes, you are very correct - tubidity and hydrocarbon are concerns now, and this concern may increase in the future depending on the amount of shoreline development.

    Cohoangler,


    Brings to mind some lines from Oscar Wilde:


    Yet each man kills the thing he loves
    By each let this be heard,
    Some do it with a bitter look,
    Some with a flattering word,
    The coward does it with a kiss,
    The brave man with a sword!

    —from The Ballad of Reading Gaol

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    Marcus - Or the well-known lessons from "The Tragedy of the Commons".

    For the uninitiated, the Tragedy of the Commons is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests.

    This concept is very familiar to any fishery manager anywhere on the globe........

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    Unhappy Sociology, biology, and the Tragedy of the Commons . . .

    Cohoangler,

    I've posted The Tragedy of the Commons, in written form, on these fora more times than I can remember. Here it is in video form:



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    I will most likely be there in SUPPORT of 2013-12. Thanks for the heads up Nerka.
    I didn't like 2011-12 the first time and I was there to speak out against it.
    Everyone thought this would have little to no impact. Then we found out the truth.
    Land owners in Nikiski were told they would be in violation for mowing their grass in their yards because they had lake front property with a salmon stream coming out of the lake. Then the borough decided they would overlook it. For how long who knows?
    I used to gold pan on a claim in cooper landing that is basically closed now because of this ordinance.
    Who does the borough employ who will enforce this ordinance? The borough does not employ any LEO's of any kind.
    I am all for protecting salmon but the way this is worded and the way it passed even amongst a lot of opposition to it I dislike.
    The way this is worded you "may not disturb the habitat within 50' of the high water mark". So if one of these creeks passes through your property you have effectly lost 100' of your property the length of the stream.
    The word "Disturb " is also disturbing to me. Walking on the bank disturbs it. Putting in a fence post disturbs it. Cutting a beetle kill tree that is leaning over your house disturbs the ground.
    Lots of ways for this ordinance as it now stands to be used and enforced as the borough sees fit. If your neighboring property owner dislikes you anything you do in the 50' zone could net you a hefty fine.
    Say your garage touches the 50' zone. If it burns down they do not have to allow you to rebuild the garage you have had there for 40 years.
    You can apply for a permit but they do not have to grant it.
    So I cannot and will not support 2011-12 but will support 2013-12

    btw I do not believe the Kenai is on the list for 2011-12 as it already has strict rules that are very similiar.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Whoa...

    Not everyone is in favor of this overreaching Ordinance. That includes some of the most salmon habitat protective people I know.

    There is a big effort to repeal the Ordinance because there are some serious problems with it. Those problems have little to do with actually protecting salmon (everyone wants that), and much to do with excessive government control of our lands. So I suggest folks inform themselves of the entire situation, it's ramifications, the misguided ideals of those driving it, and "the rest of the story" before submitting ignorant comments. Also realize Nerka was appointed by the same Administration pushing this. As a Task Force member his biased internet solicitations for the support of his position leaves me very disappointed.

    This proposed Ordinance is not only overreaching, but it uses a broad bursh and equal force to impose additional regulation on gross amounts of private and public lands, no matter their geographic location, limnological and geological differences, access, populations, development potential, social dynamics, or unique situation. We are talking about hundreds upon hundreds of anadromous waters that are so far removed from development that they don't even have names! Some are miscataloged and don't even have salmon. We are talking about private property that local landowners have successfully stewarded for generations. We are talking land and waters that are already regulated by a barrage of local, State, and Federal organizations. The Ordinance is most certainly another unnecessary loss of private landowner liberty....people who own only about 2% of Alaska's lands.

    To make matters worse, the public has been left with no indication of what this Ordinance will cost them (other than daily $$ fines for not complying). No costs associated with management, enforcement, monitoring, and so on. Who will tell a landowner he won't be allowed to clear some alders in front of his house to see the lake, cut a tree, or build a shed? Some Borough employee? Or is the Borough going to have their own salmon habitat/land deveoplment experts now? How will they be qualified to know what's good or bad for habitat? Heck, our Borough can't even maintain a road or build a subdivision to Code.

    Nerka's Ordinance is an example of pounding a square peg in a round hole...abusing the Code. The Ordinance is trying to be applied to Code 21.18, which originated to address the Borough's lack of zoning on the banks of the Kenai River, specifically areas like Poacher's Cove where development was out of hand. It was certainly necessary for that situation - a back-door approach to zoning by the Borough. However, in this case some politicians have found it an opportunity to control lands throughout the entire Borough, under the moniker of "salmon protection". In fact it is such a square peg in a round hole that the Ordinace modifies the Purpose and Finding of 21.18 just to make it fit. Hello - catch a clue folks?! When they have to modify the Purpose of the orginal Code to fit a new Ordinance, maybe the Ordinace is whack-o!

    Problem is, with few exception, nothing scientifically shows these hundreds and hundreds of waters need additional protection, or that current regulation is not working. Nothing scientifically shows current land use and stewardship is inadequate. The waters are clean. They are already regulated by some of the most strict Federal, State, and local municipality land and water policy. We hear examples from Minnesota, the West Coast, Anchorge, dams, power plants, etc., but that's apples to oranges and none apply here. Even if they did, they could be dealt with individually, like 21.18 dealt with the Kenai River. So this is a presumptuous Ordinance at best.

    When I communicated with politician Bill Smith who introduced this Ordinance, he had false presumptions of water quality problems (hello - we don't even have any, and there is no indication under current regulation we will - water is regulated already!). "I don't believe we will solve all potential water quality problems." He went on to make a comment about collecting tax, and how easy and inexpensive the Ordinace would be for developers. Salmon habitat seemed to slip his mind. When addressing Mako Haggerty, another politician pushing this, he said this Ordinance "addresses those who are disinterested in protecting salmon habitat." Really?...like who? Obviously for Mako it is more about setting people straight to his ideologies than protecting the salmon.

    I find it a shame and waste of 8 months of taxpayer money to pursue this Ordinance. There are so many more important salmon protection issues going on here that need addressing. As for Nerka's scare tactics...there is already a plethora of strict regulations governing these so-called oil company ventures across salmon streams...heck, I have to get a permit just to drive my 4-wheeler across a ditch to get to my moose blind. There is no polluted lake or river in this proposal due to landowners. No scientific study showing landowners are causing salmon problems on these proposed waters. Most are uninhabited - inaccessable. Landowners steward their property very well, and in fact they do just the opposite of what Nerka says. They build habitat, stop run-off, slow erosion and sedimentation, help remove obstructions like beaver dams, and promote healthy habitat. They like fish, and work to keep them. Although I hear if they are subject to this Ordinance, they will stop or be forced to stop their efforts. That would be a shame. Yes, the population is ever increasing, but it's effect on anadromous waters is not proportional. Here the area is isolated, and most accessable areas are already developed. So most of that population growth is not on anadromous waters. It is a drop in the bucket to what this Ordinance wants to do.

    The Ordinance, while disguised as something good for salmon, is nothing more than a loss of liberty, growth of big government, and control of more land. There is a money trail, a political trail, and self-driven agendas. Some think folks should give up their liberties based on presumptuous notions of what "might" happen. Not me. If it were about the salmon, we'd be putting our efforts in a hundred other, more effective areas.

    Lets not forget many landowners weren't even notified of this, as required by law.

    I encourage folks to reject Ordinance 2013-18. Tell yourAssemblymen you support salmon habitat protection, but this Ordinace is an unnecessary, overreaching, broad-brush, excessive regulatory grab of your landowner liberties. They can do better. Please Support 2013-12, and do it right. You can contact the KPB Assembly via emails to Johni Blankenship jblankenship@borough.kenai.ak.us

    No, I don't sit on the Administration's Task Force, like Nerka. I'm just a guy who cares about salmon.

    +1 kasilofchrisn.....rep coming your way

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    Great post Funtastic +1 if I could.
    I do wonder who will enforce this and at what cost?
    It already appears the borough is willing to overlook certain things for now. Later I am sure they will change their minds and landowners will pay hefty fines just for mowing their lawns they have had for 20+ years or cutting a tree leaning over their house.
    This is overreaching and does take property owners property and rights away. I was offered a river front house to buy but because of this ordinance I would never consider it. What good is waterfront property that cannot be "DISTURBED"?
    A broad brush is an understatement!
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    Funstatic- you put into words exactly what I think, and so much better than I could have.

    I also reached out to the assembly and the few that responded were not willing to listen to anything that didn't come from their "experts".

    When asked about land values, the response was that in their opinion the would be no affect, and stated 2011-12 had not affected values, when asked how they knew this there was some mumbling. Kasilofchisn's last post would suggest different.

    When asked about landowner rights the response was mumbled.

    I could go on but I'm weary of the issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I will most likely be there in SUPPORT of 2013-12. Thanks for the heads up Nerka.
    I didn't like 2011-12 the first time and I was there to speak out against it.
    Everyone thought this would have little to no impact. Then we found out the truth.
    Land owners in Nikiski were told they would be in violation for mowing their grass in their yards because they had lake front property with a salmon stream coming out of the lake. Then the borough decided they would overlook it. For how long who knows?
    I used to gold pan on a claim in cooper landing that is basically closed now because of this ordinance.
    Who does the borough employ who will enforce this ordinance? The borough does not employ any LEO's of any kind.
    I am all for protecting salmon but the way this is worded and the way it passed even amongst a lot of opposition to it I dislike.
    The way this is worded you "may not disturb the habitat within 50' of the high water mark". So if one of these creeks passes through your property you have effectly lost 100' of your property the length of the stream.
    The word "Disturb " is also disturbing to me. Walking on the bank disturbs it. Putting in a fence post disturbs it. Cutting a beetle kill tree that is leaning over your house disturbs the ground.
    Lots of ways for this ordinance as it now stands to be used and enforced as the borough sees fit. If your neighboring property owner dislikes you anything you do in the 50' zone could net you a hefty fine.
    Say your garage touches the 50' zone. If it burns down they do not have to allow you to rebuild the garage you have had there for 40 years.
    You can apply for a permit but they do not have to grant it.
    So I cannot and will not support 2011-12 but will support 2013-12

    btw I do not believe the Kenai is on the list for 2011-12 as it already has strict rules that are very similiar.
    First, all of the examples given here are incorrect. You can and have always been able to mow your lawn, gold panning is also allowed but the State could regulate it as it in river - has nothing to do with this ordinance, you can walk in the 50 foot zone all one wants, a fence post may or may not be allowed depending on the conditional use - there is 500 sq feet allowed for activities like BBQ, beach area, airplane landing, docks, small structures: a structure grandfathered into the zone can be rebuilt and actually the ordinance allowed a longer period than before.... so this post is just way off the mark and really is sad that the person posting did not read the ordinance proposed.

    For the record I voted for it on the task force but the Mayor submitted this with modifications so it is not exactly what I voted for on the committee - it is close and a good ordinance. The fact I want to see salmon for future generations drove my vote. I also realized that limiting use patterns is necessary for the long term health of the KPB. Salmon are a billion dollar industry here and that industry can only be maintained with protective measures relative to the land.

    The misclassification of streams was taken care of in the ordinance with a listing of streams. The ones without documentation by ADF&G were removed. Most of these have salmon but lacked paper documentation. The task force and Mayor decided to add these if and when formal documentation takes place. The streams in the ordinance are all salmon streams. Not only did ADF&G do a review but the KPC River Center did a second review.

    Next, state and federal regulations do not cover the adjacent private property in the riparian zone. That is a myth that is being circulated by some to try and confuse the issue. Both ADF&G and the USFWS have stated that private lands in the KPB are not covered by their regulations relative to the purpose of this ordinance. In one wants to purposely have a project that pollutes a stream ADF&G may be able to apply the Title 16 permit requirement. However, the word purpose does not apply to most private land owners. Also, if ADF&G was involved a permit would be required for all activities that polluted the stream. In that case all activities in the KPB would fall under State review. That does not happen and for those saying existing regulations covering private lands exist - not true.

    Again, one can cut a tree, trim some alders, and do other activities listed without a permit. Need to read the ordinance Funstastic.

    No Funstastic, the science shows without a doubt that this ordinance is needed for all streams and lakes. The literature is very clear on the need of having riparian protection zones and limiting near stream and lake development. I can show you private development in the KPB that has resulted in the loss of salmon habitat on a number of streams. On a number of lakes home owners have clear cut right down to the lake and pollutants and sediment runs directly into the lake.

    Relative to driving you vehicle across a salmon stream that is correct - you need a title 16 permit as you are in the stream. However, you did not need a permit to drive up to the stream, you could cut the vegetation all the way down if on your property and so be it - loss of habitat. Also, oil companies wanted to cut the vegetation down on the westside according to ADF&G testimony.

    Lets be clear here. Opposition is coming from sectors that want total freedom to do what they want with their property - even if those actions cause harm to the common property beyond their property lines. While some people may think they are saving the resource it turns out a number of times they are not well informed about harmful activities. For example, one individual told me that he protects salmon habitat on his lake. So I asked how - did he leave a buffer near the lake. No he cut it all down and put in grass. Had no idea that this was not a good thing to do. That a vegetative buffer would filter sedimentation, provide cover for fish, provide food resources for fish, cool water temperatures, and the like.

    So for those that object please make sure your position is based on what the ordinance actually does and your position is factually correct. The posts here are just the opposite. I would like to know how those that object are going to protect salmon habitat if the riparian zone is allowed to be degraded like it has over the last two decades. We have the whole Northwest as an example of how volunteer efforts fail, how some people could care less about salmon and want to develop for short term profit or self interests, and how some who do not rely on salmon for economic gain will give up habitat for other economic opportunities. So just how are you going to protect salmon habitat Funstastic? Please do not tell me that all people are stewards of the resource and that everyone is going to do the right thing with their property. That is just too simplistic.

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    Kasilof and funtastic nailed it. I don't want to go beg for permission to use my property. As said, most water ways on the Pen are remote areas to begin with. While I understand the concerns on the Kenai R, there is no use issue w other waters.
    Reps coming your ways, boys.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Lightbulb

    What an interesting thread and discussion.


    Since nonresidents can't vote, so far it looks like one Alaska resident for and four Alaska residents opposed to 2013-18.


    Good discussion . . good points . . the election results will be interesting.

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    Nerka, that was a great reply. I am eagerly waiting for funtastic, and others to reply. I am finding this all very interesting, and think this is an important topic. I tend to have to go with your last sentance........regulations and oversight are generally required to protect resources. If the people who oppose this measure would........how can/should we protect habitat?

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    Think about it gentlemen. From Nerka's own post .... " a fence post may or may not be allowed depending on the conditional use -".... Talk about killing a mosquito with a sledge hammer. Gimme a break. I'm gonna sit and wait how many months for some beaurocrat to put in something as simple as a fence post? I don't think so.
    I have a vested personal interest in my river and don't need yet another expansion of govt to once again grant me their blessing to use my property.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    For existing property owners, this comes down to "You have it, I want it, and I am morally superior because I do it for the Children, and I also have an armed police force."

    The problem with any law in today's legal environment is that it never actually means what it says or says what the implementers say it says. All the implementers are blessed with immunity so they can be as irrational or arbitrary as they please with no consequences. They get a free pass and any challenge involves the court system and many attorney hours and $$$,$$$. This is called Hooray for ME, screw you, where you is the target of the proposed legislation.

    Motherhood, apple pie, salmon, who can be opposed?

    First off it is a denial of use of the property while collecting all the taxes based on the highest and best use. There is a 500 SF use area, or 10' by 50'. Does that apply at one area per ownership unit? The courts will likely give it a pass, as you did not confiscate everything, this time. Confiscation a nibble at a time is very much court approved.

    If the committee voted one version and the mayor modified it, it may be worth a serious debate on what it really means and precisely how it will be implemented. Better yet would be a requirement that all the implementing regulations be put forth before the law gets approved.

    Agency mission creep is not new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tee Jay View Post
    For existing property owners, this comes down to "You have it, I want it, and I am morally superior because I do it for the Children, and I also have an armed police force."

    The problem with any law in today's legal environment is that it never actually means what it says or says what the implementers say it says. All the implementers are blessed with immunity so they can be as irrational or arbitrary as they please with no consequences. They get a free pass and any challenge involves the court system and many attorney hours and $$$,$$$. This is called Hooray for ME, screw you, where you is the target of the proposed legislation.

    Motherhood, apple pie, salmon, who can be opposed?

    First off it is a denial of use of the property while collecting all the taxes based on the highest and best use. There is a 500 SF use area, or 10' by 50'. Does that apply at one area per ownership unit? The courts will likely give it a pass, as you did not confiscate everything, this time. Confiscation a nibble at a time is very much court approved.

    If the committee voted one version and the mayor modified it, it may be worth a serious debate on what it really means and precisely how it will be implemented. Better yet would be a requirement that all the implementing regulations be put forth before the law gets approved.

    Agency mission creep is not new.
    The idea that a property owner has some God given right to do what they want with their property without concern for off property impacts goes in the face of common sense and civil society. We have all types of limits on our use of our property. There are zoning laws in all of the cities on the Peninsula, there is regulations on using owns property relative to various developments and frankly no one who is objecting has offered any options on how to protect salmon habitat. Why? Because they know that volunteer efforts fail. So what they are really saying is we do not care about how we impact a common resource or maybe they do not care how their fellow citizens impact a common property resource. Again, the need for regulations is because property owners have in not protected salmon resources.

    Of course this forum is not a representation of the society as a whole and we will see how the vote goes. Just for the record 1600 people signed a petition based on the myths above and 2000 KPB residents signed a petition in support of the task force and 6000 signed in support as Alaskans. So we will see. At least the forum has served the purpose of getting it out for discussion. It is a complex issue but in a way it is about the right and wrong way to protect salmon habitat. Call that apple pie if you want but it is the truth.

    I do not want to get into the debate of this issue here as I have heard it all over the last 8 months. What I never heard from the opposing forces is how they would in reality protect salmon habitat. Other than pie in the sky stuff about volunteer effort and we do not need it there is nothing. So be it but in my opinion that is a failed approach and history shows that to be the case - both on the Peninsula and in other areas of the State. What happened to the volunteer effort on the Kenai River which the naysayers say was needed. Obviously it failed there.

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