issues on the Kenai FLats
Many of you who hunt the Kenai Flats are aware of this but some may not be, so this is an attempt to get the word out.
Sometime just prior to the September 1, 2008, duck season opener, Alaska State Parks staff removed the two blinds that were located south of the highway and west of the river on the downstream side , approximately ¾ of a mile from the highway. These blinds were the prominent ones that had been there for 30 plus years and besides being working blinds they were landmarks. Supposedly Parks decided, after so many years that they were an “eyesore” and removed them. Additionally they actually threw parts of the blinds into the river. They did not completely clean up the blind sites as there are still platforms and pallets left behind.
While probably not the intent of the original builders, these blinds had become “community blinds” many different hunters used them on a first come, first served basis. Of course their removal, after over 30 years of remaining unmolested, threw up a huge red flag to local hunters. As in, “Is Parks going to try and shut us out?” A meeting was held with the City of Kenai and they staunchly support the duck hunting there and suggested that Parks open some of the restrictions on the area that are simply not necessary.
I was not at the meeting but after hearing some of what had happened I called area Parks Superintendant, Jack Sinclair. He assured me that there was no move afoot to restrict hunting on the flats and that the blind removal was done purely as part of Parks policy regarding constructing permanent structures on Parks land. He had no explanation why this had all of a sudden become an issue after more than 30 years. He did invite those of us with concerns to attend a meeting of the Kenai River Special Management Area Board and voice those concerns.
On September 11, 2008, several of us did attend this meeting and did express our concerns. The board did not act on anything but they in general seemed supportive of what we had to say. Jack Sinclair was there and he was unable to expand on what he had already stated. Most concerning is he was not able to state exactly what the Park restrictions in the area meant. He did not know what was meant by a “structure” as listed in their regulations and he would not take any firm stand on those regulations.
In part this is why we are so concerned. Parks says there is no agenda but they also will not state with any conviction what their regulations for the area are and as such, who knows what they might be interpreted as.
It was suggested that the area duck hunters have a meeting with Mr. Sinclair so we can come to an understanding of what can and cannot be done and hopefully secure more favorable regulations in that area. I spoke with Mr. Sinclair earlier this week and he has been tied up but is planning on getting together with us next week.
This issue is much more than a matter of blinds being torn down. It seems, and there has been nothing to suggest otherwise, that Parks does have an agenda and as we all know, these things can be back-doored and you wake up without a place to hunt or fish or hike or whatever. In any event, I am not a politician and don’t want to play the political game but this seems significant enough and threatening enough to be proactive. If any of you have interest in attending the meeting with Mr. Sinclair or would like to talk more about this please PM me and I will do my best to answer questions and explain what I know.
Good luck with your efforts down there. Discovering why they do things is important, since many officials don't know themselves.
Showing them that there are users effected by their actions will make a good impression. If nobody speaks up then how will they know they effect others? Of course getting in their face and yelling has the opposite effect. Some folks at public meetings just don't understand this and will never be succseful in being heard.
From the DNR side of things and for state refuges "structures" is anything man made that is not temporary in use. Duck blinds would fit into that discription.
The one thing to have them look at is that their solution is "worse" than the problem with the debris being tossed into the river. It is now a navigation hazard and DNR needs to deal with that. If they tear down a structure so that it is not usable but leave the debris in the parkland then that us much worse than the structure.
was also upsetting to me as a friend that i saw at the fair told me about the blinds being torn town. I hunted out of them and will never forget the biggest flock of teal in my 51 yrs came at me. I knocked down 3 in the wind and rain. when i was living down there last year, i had read that the new parks director for the state is a woman. Find out where she is from, research her, what college did she attend and what she majored in. Who is she? Contact her.
according to what i heard a few yrs back that allegedly a local police officer was hunting on the east side of bridge access and some parks guy came out and said he needed to be 1 mile off the hwy instead of the usual 1/4 mile. supposedly, some heated words were exchanged. Did you hear about this?
Thanks for the info. I am out of state till 10/11 and left Ak. before hunting
. I will be glad to speak up for the use of the flats. My son and I have used these blinds form time to time.