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Thread: Kenai listed as impaired for turbidity

  1. #221

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    So, turbidity created by guide boats is different than turbidity caused by private boats. Got it.
    Iím not sure thatís what he meant, but itís kind of true. Significant spikes in turbidity relative to guide start/stop times.

    Do you feel that guides and private anglers should not be regulated differently?

  2. #222
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    I haven't read through the whole discussion here, but I did want to toss a log on the fire...

    A few years ago I met Robert Ruffner, back when he was head of the Kenai Watershed Forum. I was at the lower Kenai conducting research on the dipnet fishery, and our meeting actually took place at his house, while he was cleaning dipnetted sockeye salmon in his driveway. Pretty amiable guy, and he came across to me as politically neutral. He did mention the turbidity concerns, and alluded to that issue being a potential political football. As has been mentioned, there are many contributors to the issue, including guides, private boaters, and personal use boaters. I would not be surprised if the lower river was not included in the study simply because of tidal influence. A significant portion of that stretch is bordered by fine silt, which is easily churned up even without any boating activity. Ruffner mentioned that the grass bordering that section is recognized as important habitat for salmon smolts, which feed on insects and such during high tide cycles in that area. Obviously, the water level in that area is nowhere close to the grassy shoreline for most of a tide cycle, but for the 2-3 hours it floods the smolts use it.

    For those interested, I'm posting the video interview with Ruffner here. I don't recall if he talked about the turbidity issue, but at that time the study was not actionable. There were concerns that it was just going to turn into another fight over who gets what, with little effect that would actually benefit the river. In the end, isn't that what this should be about? What's best for the river?

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  3. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic
    I certainly am. But not necessarily equally. Commercial impacts differ from non-commercial, and thus should be restricted differently.
    So, turbidity created by guide boats is different than turbidity caused by private boats. Got it.
    Yes, although I was referring to all impacts, not just turbidity. I think it's honest to say there is an increased turbidity factor generated from the guide's gunshot start/stop time, which causes a high energy compounding wave effect. It is also common for guides to do multiple trips per day, and shuttle multiple boat loads of flossers throughout the day, in my opinion creating more overall wake than a private on average.

    We must also consider that commercial guiding makes access much easier for anglers. That ease of access in itself, ends up creating more impact regarding turbidity. Both private and commercial guides effect turbidity, but difference is guides make money at the expense of the habitat, and privates don't. This is why we must regulate commercial guiding differently, like most any commercial business and it's impacts on the environment.

    Here's an observation: Could the location of the public toilets (Pillars, Eagle Rock, etc), be contributing to the turbidity? Boats make trips back and forth to them all day long. Just say'n.

  4. #224

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic View Post
    Both private and commercial guides effect turbidity, but difference is guides make money at the expense of the habitat, and privates don't. This is why we must regulate commercial guiding differently, like most any commercial business and it's impacts on the environment.
    This mentality seems similar to the anti-commfish crowd. I don't think the fact that they are making money off the resource means that they should be treated more strictly with respect to acceptable impacts. In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that there is more public utility in their use of the river than yours or mine. Someone who just lives and works here but does not fish (probably a majority of the population) likely sees more benefit from guided activity than they do from private fishing activity.

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    This mentality seems similar to the anti-commfish crowd. I don't think the fact that they are making money off the resource means that they should be treated more strictly with respect to acceptable impacts. In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that there is more public utility in their use of the river than yours or mine. Someone who just lives and works here but does not fish (probably a majority of the population) likely sees more benefit from guided activity than they do from private fishing activity.
    The mentality of wanting different regulations for commercial guides isn't anti-anything. The fact is, and as history shows, the insatiable desire to make money tends to prioritize itself over the resource and habitat. The Kenai River is a perfect example. That is why we need, and almost always have, different regulations for commercial industries. Commercial fishing is no different, and wanting regulations on commercial fishing that protect resource and habitat is not anti-commercial fishing. Making money is great, but it shouldn't happen at the cost of habitat, particularly if a regulation can be put in place that both keeps the commercial industry viable and protects habitat. Also, I do not believe public utility is at issue here, as we all have the same equal opportunity to use the Kenai River. Nothing says we need, or must have, a commercial guide to do that. The access is still there. Commercial guides just make it easier. As a result, the habitat finds itself more prone.

  6. #226

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic View Post
    The mentality of wanting different regulations for commercial guides isn't anti-anything. The fact is, and as history shows, the insatiable desire to make money tends to prioritize itself over the resource and habitat. The Kenai River is a perfect example. That is why we need, and almost always have, different regulations for commercial industries. Commercial fishing is no different, and wanting regulations on commercial fishing that protect resource and habitat is not anti-commercial fishing. Making money is great, but it shouldn't happen at the cost of habitat, particularly if a regulation can be put in place that both keeps the commercial industry viable and protects habitat. Also, I do not believe public utility is at issue here, as we all have the same equal opportunity to use the Kenai River. Nothing says we need, or must have, a commercial guide to do that. The access is still there. Commercial guides just make it easier. As a result, the habitat finds itself more prone.
    It's human nature to prioritize our short-term goals over the long-term health of the resource. I'm not sure the profit motive changes things much. Lots of private fishermen/sportsmen motivated by the same greed - biggest fish/animal, biggest harvest, most hookups, best picture, best story, boldly going where no one has gone before, etc.

    I completely agree that private fishermen and guides should be regulated differently, but I feel so because of the way they use the resource, not what motivates them.

  7. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    It's human nature to prioritize our short-term goals over the long-term health of the resource.
    Conclusion: Human nature sucks.

    I follow most of these threads from beginning to gawdawful end, and usually don't say a word because there's really no point in it. Have to admit I find them frustrating as hell. All I can say is you all are dam n lucky I'm not in charge, or every single boat would be banned from the river for AT LEAST five years to give you a chance to contemplate your short term greed and give the ecosystem a chance to heal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    It's human nature to prioritize our short-term goals over the long-term health of the resource. I'm not sure the profit motive changes things much. Lots of private fishermen/sportsmen motivated by the same greed - biggest fish/animal, biggest harvest, most hookups, best picture, best story, boldly going where no one has gone before, etc.

    I completely agree that private fishermen and guides should be regulated differently, but I feel so because of the way they use the resource, not what motivates them.
    Good point. Bottom line is the Kenai is facing a turbidity impairment. And when it comes to doing something about it we are getting the same resistance we've been getting over the last 30 years, from the same players and their same economic-prioritized industry. Comparable resistance from privates is hard to find.

  9. #229

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Conclusion: Human nature sucks.

    I follow most of these threads from beginning to gawdawful end, and usually don't say a word because there's really no point in it. Have to admit I find them frustrating as hell. All I can say is you all are dam n lucky I'm not in charge, or every single boat would be banned from the river for AT LEAST five years to give you a chance to contemplate your short term greed and give the ecosystem a chance to heal.
    This is a great post. Way to make a statement and then back it up. Limp Bizkit syndrome is also human nature. (Everything is effed, everybody sucks).

    I do agree with Yukon that the river is not as bad off as many make it seem. Compared to historical standards, it's pretty darned productive. I just wanna keep it that way, and I completely disagree with his assertion that there is lower pressure on the river now than there used to be. We recently saw a downward trend in some fisheries and upwards trends in others, but I'm nearly certain that overall use on the river has steadily increased over the decades. Not sure if there is any way to verify this with data, because to my knowledge nobody tracks overall usage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Conclusion: Human nature sucks.

    I follow most of these threads from beginning to gawdawful end, and usually don't say a word because there's really no point in it.
    Says the guy with 7365 posts!!! Thanks again for the laughs iof.
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  11. #231
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    This is a great post. Way to make a statement and then back it up. Limp Bizkit syndrome is also human nature. (Everything is effed, everybody sucks).

    I do agree with Yukon that the river is not as bad off as many make it seem. Compared to historical standards, it's pretty darned productive. I just wanna keep it that way, and I completely disagree with his assertion that there is lower pressure on the river now than there used to be. We recently saw a downward trend in some fisheries and upwards trends in others, but I'm nearly certain that overall use on the river has steadily increased over the decades. Not sure if there is any way to verify this with data, because to my knowledge nobody tracks overall usage.
    Smithtb you got sucked in with Yukon's post. He picked 20-30 years ago and that is when the river was already impaired relative to habitat. However, for those of us who have been here longer we would pick the baseline to be the river in the mid-70's. At that point there was no sockeye salmon fishery except at Russian River - mainstem fishing did not come into play until 1987 when over a million fish entered the river (30 years ago), chinook salmon fishing was just starting in the mid-70's so there was no major guide industry or private anglers to speak of: land development along the river was still pretty limited and thus there was a chance for reasonable land use regulations but that did not happen. So if you really want to start when the river was relatively habitat friendly one would have to compare to the mid 70's. The growth in use patterns by the early 80's raised red flags and yes Yukon is correct it got pretty bad and got worse as time went on. So in reaction some things have improved for riverside development but even that is limited as a 50 foot buffer is not really very effective to what it should have been. Yes we needed to have lots of gas in the river to take action instead of planning for a use pattern that would not have put that quantity of gas in the river. We have not dealt with thousands of boat wakes hitting the banks. We have only minimized bank damage from anglers and private property owners but it has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for private gain. So I will use the mid-70's as the starting point as that is the spot where human activity really took off and measure from there. In that baseline the river is still worse off today. Good planning was what hoped for with the Special Management Area but DNR failed significantly in carrying out the legislation mandate. User groups and mainly guides and KRSA fought ever action including the buffer of 100 feet which the state recommended.

  12. #232

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    Ok so I tried not to get sucked in....lol. Not disputing that we've passed a bunch of good regs/protections since the 80's, but I'd make the point (that you've made before) that restoring past damage can't be seen as a net positive effect on habitat.

    My question was this: Is there more or less people fishing the Kenai now than there were 20-30 years ago? Is there any way to know for sure? I looked briefly at SWHS data but didn't see where I could parse our Kenai River without a special data request, and even then I don't think it would encompass everyone.

    I simply don't see how there could be less pressure on the Kenai now than there was 20-30 years ago.

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    I have the data Smith when it comes to fishing effort. I just have to figure out how to post it here. Or get it to you in a different manner.

  14. #234
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patsfan54 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    It's human nature to prioritize our short-term goals over the long-term health of the resource.
    Conclusion: Human nature sucks.

    I follow most of these threads from beginning to gawdawful end, and usually don't say a word because there's really no point in it. Have to admit I find them frustrating as hell. All I can say is you all are dam n lucky I'm not in charge, or every single boat would be banned from the river for AT LEAST five years to give you a chance to contemplate your short term greed and give the ecosystem a chance to heal.
    Says the guy with 7365 posts!!! Thanks again for the laughs iof.
    My frustration lies in the reality that so many people's greed outweighs any concern for the long term health of ecosystems, and in the fact that so often there's little we can do about it beyond identifying and bemoaning the obvious. But, Patsfan, if you find entertainment in presenting as a case in point example of my above conclusion, then I guess I'm happy for you. Or whatever.

    I appreciate that sound management decisions must be data driven, or at the very least be grounded in and defensible by sound scientific understanding, but in order to solve a problem, somebody at some point has to actually DO SOMETHING other than debate data points ad nauseam. My wondering is whether anybody here thinks it's possible to actually do something meaningful to solve the problem, or is the point of discussion really just mid-winter entertainment value?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Smithtb you got sucked in with Yukon's post. He picked 20-30 years ago and that is when the river was already impaired relative to habitat. However, for those of us who have been here longer we would pick the baseline to be the river in the mid-70's. At that point there was no sockeye salmon fishery except at Russian River - mainstem fishing did not come into play until 1987 when over a million fish entered the river (30 years ago), chinook salmon fishing was just starting in the mid-70's so there was no major guide industry or private anglers to speak of: land development along the river was still pretty limited and thus there was a chance for reasonable land use regulations but that did not happen. So if you really want to start when the river was relatively habitat friendly one would have to compare to the mid 70's. The growth in use patterns by the early 80's raised red flags and yes Yukon is correct it got pretty bad and got worse as time went on. So in reaction some things have improved for riverside development but even that is limited as a 50 foot buffer is not really very effective to what it should have been. Yes we needed to have lots of gas in the river to take action instead of planning for a use pattern that would not have put that quantity of gas in the river. We have not dealt with thousands of boat wakes hitting the banks. We have only minimized bank damage from anglers and private property owners but it has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for private gain. So I will use the mid-70's as the starting point as that is the spot where human activity really took off and measure from there. In that baseline the river is still worse off today. Good planning was what hoped for with the Special Management Area but DNR failed significantly in carrying out the legislation mandate. User groups and mainly guides and KRSA fought ever action including the buffer of 100 feet which the state recommended.
    I disagree about the Chinook. There was an active Cjinook fishery launching from Lower Skilak and either returning there of taking out at Bing's. There were several campsites along the upper river that have been removed. There were also a lot fewer people, and a whole lot less visitors.

    Impacts on the river need to include population growth in SouthCentral, and improved highway access. For fishing pressure look at the licenses sold between 1970 and today.

    Reduce the number of fish boxes being sent out of Kenai, reduce the number of tourists to the Kenai, and thus reduce the number of guides, and thus reduce the economic opportunities on the Kenai. There is no social good to come of intentionally impoverishing the Kenai. So issue the guides staggered starting times, sort of like the gas lines of the 1980's. Spread them out rather than a Indy 500 start, and change it so they get equal access, as in day with 3, 6, and 9 you get 5am, 4, 7, and 10 you get 6am and so on. Reduce turbidity seems to be a function of guide regulation, so focus the solution on the proximate cause. You don't like this idea, float one you like better

  16. #236

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    I have the data Smith when it comes to fishing effort. I just have to figure out how to post it here. Or get it to you in a different manner.

    To anyone interested - Yukon got me the data, and we were talking 2 different things. His point was that pressure in the King fishery is less than 20-30 years ago, which is correct. I was trying to speak to overall river pressure, which I'm pretty sure is substantially higher now. FWIW.

  17. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    To anyone interested - Yukon got me the data, and we were talking 2 different things. His point was that pressure in the King fishery is less than 20-30 years ago, which is correct.
    What accounts for this? Does the reduction in effort correlate with a decrease in available number of trophy sized fish?
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  18. #238

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    What accounts for this? Does the reduction in effort correlate with a decrease in available number of trophy sized fish?
    That, combined with total closure of the fishery several different years and plenty of bad press. People found other stuff to go fishing for. The decrease in King fishing effort did correlate with an increase in effort on other parts of the Kenai.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic View Post
    Good point. Bottom line is the Kenai is facing a turbidity impairment. And when it comes to doing something about it we are getting the same resistance we've been getting over the last 30 years, from the same players and their same economic-prioritized industry. Comparable resistance from privates is hard to find.
    There are guide use limits on state parks right here in Alaska at woodtikchik. Same outfit permits guides on Kenai. Get it done. Just think the federal refuge has a guide limit in the upper Kenai, if they didn’t it would be more crowding up there hard to believe more could be up there some days. Point is even with guide limits it will still be crowded and I think there should be limits on the number of people on the river period. I have fished all over North America and places they have done this ends up being a boom for the resource and a boom for the resource means a boom for economic activity. In many cases the fishing or hunting gets better but the same old players resist because they are afraid of something not sure what. If I had a permit to commercial fish I would jump at the buy back the writing has been in the wall for years and just keeps getting longer gas pollution, turbidity pollution less fishing time for commercial size limits, bait limits, hook limits guide days public days. It is crazy to put up resistance to control the numbers of guides or people. I guess people just like fighting for more even though the fight gets them less. I am still dreaming turbidity can be the tipping point for limiting all people on the river. Because if it is not what’s next the writing on the wall is getting longer.

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