Meeting concerning the Kenai Flats
State Parks is hosting a meeting for duck hunters concerning boundary issues, etc... on the Kenai Flats. If you are concerned about having hunting rights in this area in the future I would urge you to attend.
It will be held tomorrow evening (9/26/08) at 5:00 PM at the Kenai River Center off Funny River Road.
Thanks for the info see you there!
If someone is going to the meeting, can you post the outcome of the meeting? Although I am heading down there, I will not be able to get there in time after work.
I will post what is accomplished at the meeting.
Wow, I was suprised at what happened at that meeting. There was no formal meeting it was just angry duck hunters bashing the enforcement officer because of lost blinds and more restricted hunt areas that where already in place but ignored in the past. Now as a innocent bystander whom just came to find a place to hunt birds since I am new to the area I can see both sides of the coin. After the bloodpressure dropped I saw some sense and hope for your problem developing.
Firstly This will be my first duck hunting season for over 25 years that I haven't been out and this is because I moved here to the Kenai Penn which I am finding is crowded and full of user conflict. I am a registered migratory waterfowl guide and have done some guiding other places in the State(I do not intend to do it here so dont worry about that). I love waterfowl hunting as much as you guys do.
Now I have some ideas that I concluded from your discussion. Firstly you spoke of creating a Kenai Bird Organization, now that's not a bad idea but not necessary. I think you guys allready have one as you had a group that already knew each other and organized enough to show up so (You have created a working group). Also I heard question of how many petitions would be needed to help change the 1/2 mile firearm law to 1/4 mile for shotgun. I do not think petitioning is the way to go as it is not the legal manner that regulations are changed. I had to leave a little early to take my lab pup to obiedence class so maybe you guys figured this out but you need to create a proposal to ammend the regulation with the State Parks on the gun law. I sat on the Sitka ADF&G Advisory committee for 6 years and reviewed and commented on hundreds of proposals. This is how your hunting/fishing regulations are made. As far as I know it is the same with the Parks. So you need to get together, create a proposal and gain public support for this ei.. (1st step) your local ADFG advisory committee which will enable you to take the issue to a public forum and hopefully get their endorsement. Then present it to the Parks when they have their meeting or what ever form of regulation forum they conduct. It may be a little sticky with the city of Kenai owning some of the property but I think you have a really good chance at changing the regulation if you get together and create this and present it calmly and in a professional manner. Good luck and if any of you guys want to take a guy and his shotgun out to see what all the hipe is about on those flats please get ahold of me.
All things considered, the meeting went well. Yes, initially there were some fairly angry outbursts and that was totally expected. When this issue was brought up at the last meeting of the Kenai River Special Managment Area Board the issue of the blind removal was brought up as well as legal boudaries for hunting waterfowl on the lower Kenai River.
Since this was not an agenda item for that meeting (we were there per invitation from Park Superntendant Jack Sinclair) we did not accomplish much except bring some of the issues out. Jack Sinclair suggested a follow-up meeting, which is what took place on Friday.
One of the primary concerns was where the boudaries were and Parks finally produced a map showing where we can and cannot hunt and most of us were astonished when we saw that a large part of the lower river, where we have been hunting for many years, was illegal. Of course this set off some pretty strong emotions. Add to that the fact that over the years many of us had been contacted by Parks staff in many of these areas and had never had issues. As with the blinds, Parks seemed to be taking the stand of what was reasonable and customary for that area and leaving it alone even if it was not to the letter of the law.
The "out of the blue" removal of those blinds after standing for more than thirty years said to us that something was going on and we felt our hunting was being threatened. And it is, if for no other reason, Parks will be enforcing the boundaries that previously they did not.
The regulation that most seriously affects hunting on the lower river is the Parks regulation stating firearms may not be discharged within a half mile of a developed facility. A "developed facility" includes parking lots, outhouses, that sort of thing. Using that regulation and enforcing it to the strict definition eliminates most of the lower Kenai River from hunting waterfowl.
After the smoke cleared and we started discussing solutions, Jack Sinclair brought up that there were places in the State Park system where exceptions had been made and a 1/4 mile rule was in place. After discussing this option for some time Jack and Park Ranger Kusto both felt like 1/4 from a developed facility was adaquete for discharging shotguns and they would support such a proposal. If we can get that changed it will solve most of the concerns we have and it will be a huge statement in favor of hunting.
As Martenpine states, a petition won't change the 1/2 mile regulation. We will be addressing it with the Kenai River Special Managment Area Board and ultimatley with State Parks. This isn't going to happen overnight but I feel we have a decent chance if we present it well and appropriatly. As far as adding another "bird group," that doesn't seem nessecary, most of the duck hunters at the meeting are members of Delta Waterfowl and there is a new chapter in Kenai. Delta has already stated they will assist if need be in trying to preserve the hunting rights on the flats.
Anyway, this is getting long but we will be working toward getting things worked out with Parks. Anyone with more interest PM me and I will tell you all that I can.
Martenpine, PM me, I am sure I can find a time to show you the flats but don't expect much hype, there are plenty of times when we don't fire a shot!
I want to thank both sameyer and martinpine, and all that attended (esp. because I couldn't get there in time) for the reports and the show of strength!! We may all hunt in our small groups, but I still see that we all stand together!!