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 ( firstname.lastname@example.org 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.