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  • Kenai River to be classified impaired.

    The Department of Environmental Conservation tonight at the Kenai River Special Management Area advisory board stated that they intent to list the Kenai River as impaired under the Clean Water Act. This action is based on violation of state standards for the protection of aquatic life. DEC representatives stated that 600 gallons of fuel a day enters the river in the month of July. The primary cause of this pollution is boats.

    DEC also stated that horsepower increases will not solve the fuel problem and that a reduction in boats or use patterns will be necessary.

    The classification of this world class river as impaired is a statement on the inability of state agencies to control the growth on the river and resultant impacts.

    The Department of Natural Resources has control over use patterns on the river through special legislation passed in the mid-80's for the protection of fish and wildlife. They have failed because special interest groups have been able to politically stop or alter regulations to protect the river. These user groups maintain they want to save the river and raise millions of dollars under the habitat banner only to stiffle real and meaningful change.

    The impact on the communities of the Kenai Peninsula from this lisitng are not fully understood at this time. However, the fact that the tourism industry in Alaska sells a pristine environment as a prime reason for visiting the State it is hard to believe this will have no impact on people coming to the Kenai Peninsula. After all the peninsula is now a world famous river with the same status as polluted streams in their home towns.

    It is a sad day for Alaska but it shows we are no different from any other community that has allowed itself to be used by powerful political leaders. Every year the politically powerful come to the Kenai for the Kenai River Classic and donate millions of dollars for habitat issues. Kind of hard to sell that anymore given 600 gallons of fuel flow down the river each day in July.

  • #2
    Sad day for the Kenai, for Alaskans. . .

    This is indeed a sad day for Alaskans—the great Kenai River is now impaired, polluted by hydrocarbons poured into the river by boats in pursuit of money and king salmon. And it's a shameful day for Alaska's Department of Fish & Game, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Environmental Conservation, who have collectively failed Alaskans as the gatekeepers of the state's resources by allowing this travesty of their function to even occur.

    As DEC observed at last night's KRSMA board meeting, the solution has got to be a reduction in boats or in use patterns. As I see it, the easiest, quickest, and least disruptive way to change boat-use patterns on the Kenai is to abolish catch-and-release.

    Thousands upon thousands of gallons of fuel are expended on the Kenai by boats and anglers in endless pursuit of kings, either as trophies, just for the fun of catching them, letting them go to do it over and over and over again, or for the table.

    Current regulations allow an angler two Kenai kings annually. If we make the first two Kenai kings brought to the boat—keep them or let them go, your choice—one's two kings for the year and you're off the river, the reduction in boat-hours on the river would be immense.

    Such a solution does not decrease "opportunity," (the very air breathed by ADF&G's Sport Fish Division), it merely constricts it. The chance to catch a big king—whether for fun and thrills, for a trophy, or for the table—is still there. The commercial sportfishing industry can sell as many or even more trips and lodging because anglers would rotate through the system much more quickly, Sport Fish Division can collect revenues on as many or more license sales, and those wanting a king on the table can still kill two fish.

    We must reduce motorized boat use on the Kenai. Other options are available such as simply limiting entry, reducing the number of commercial operators, more drift-only days, or a drift-only fishery. Abolishing catch-and-release is perhaps the least disruptive.

    Comment


    • #3
      It seems this would have made bigger news today. I can't find it in any of the state papers. I might be missing it, but you would think this is front page stuff.
      Maybe tomorrows paper?
      Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~Henry David Thoreau

      Comment


      • #4
        Too soon. . .

        It just happened last night's KRSMA board meeting. . .

        Comment


        • #5
          User groups

          I was contacted by DNR a couple of weeks ago and was asked If I were going to attend the meetings. I told them that I would submit a letter to Jack Sinclair, but not attend due to work schedule.
          I am a commercial user group on the lower kenai river with Power boats, Rafts, Canoes, Kayaks, Row, drift boats rental Operator.
          My suggestion was that I was afraid Kenai sports fisherman and Kenai river guides yeilded so much power that the DNR, ADF&G, ADEC etc, was not thinking straight about the real issues. It was even suggested that some bully action has taken place. When I heard that someone tried to bully a ADEC rep from the Peninsula, I called the ADEC Juneau office and ask them to be aware that this may have happened. The said they would investigate.
          My comments in writing to Jack Sinclair, was that they have a responsibilty FIRST to the River, not US user groups.
          Marcus said it right that we have done it too ourselves thru greed and mis use of this wonderful resource.
          I am truly sorry that our river now bears this Classification.

          This is indeed a sad day for Alaskans—the great Kenai River is now impaired, polluted by hydrocarbons poured into the river by boats in pursuit of money and king salmon.


          As I drove into my yard this morning from working night shift, I passed by my 17ft river boat with the detuned 4 stroker sitting there, and said again to myself, "I am part of the problem".
          I hope the DNR, ADF&G and ADEC have grown enough teeth to take charge of the situation and will not be influenced by money interests.
          Last week one of the Kenai River Master guides stopped by my home for a short visit, we have known each other since the first day he arrived here on the Kenai. He also sits on the Guides association presidency. His comments to me where inline with mine that someone without a dog in the money fight needs to make the tough decisions. River water quality and bank protection has to be the focus point.., Not people like us that make part of our living off of it. It makes us to bias...
          Max
          When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

          Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Politicized process = polluted protection. . .

            Well and unselfishly said, AKcanoe, but not all are as responsible. I attended the KRSMA board meeting last evening but left early, about 7 PM. Have since learned that after I left, the KRSMA board unbelievably voted, with one exception, to reaffirm its support of going to 50 horsepower.

            The KRSMA board has no data that states such an increase in horsepower will reduce hydrocarbon emissions, no data that shows such increase will not worsen erosion and habitat destruction, and no data from Phase II of the wake study. Reportedly, one KRSMA board member cavalierly stated that the board might have to retract its support in six months.

            And, yes, I too heard, from a very credible source, that political bullying of DEC staff occurred at high levels in Juneau.

            Comment


            • #7
              I certainly do not want to sound like I know what the solution is here, so please just take this as suggestive. I have only been in Alaska for two years now and have thoroughly enjoyed fishing the kenai river. I have yet to do it by boat, but that is just because I enjoy walking the river so much, and because I usually don't want to pay the fees the guides charge.

              I find it interesting that some of these posts mention how people who don't have ties to the money should make these decisions. I think that is either somewhat disingenuous or simply false optimism given the way our state, and country for that matter, works. Money runs it all. I respect Alaskacanoe for even stopping to consider whether or not he is part of the problem. My guess is that several guides will be more upset by this classification because it might take away from their bottom line somewhere down the road. I think we all saw this type of behavior this past summer when the kenai was shut down to sockeye fishing. It seemed that fish and game was truly concerned about the state of the fishery because the numbers were so low. Weighing the health of the fishery against the economics of it, they made the tough decision to shut it down. People were mad because it took away from their guiding, fishing opportunities, sales in Soldotna, Kenai, etc.

              If the number of days of motors on the river drops, guides will throw a fit over this, I have no doubt. This is their livelihood, and it certainly would be understandable. Not everybody will be as reflective Alaskacanoe. To make tough decisions without regard to the economics would probably be silly, and impossible. Look at the potetial magnitude of what has been happening on the north slope recently. Gas prices went up a dime or two because of what appears to be BP's stupidity and greed, and the whole country seems to have gone nuts over it. But, instead of being upset that BP almost caused a major disaster, Congress, the president, etc. seem to be more upset about the gas prices. Again, money is fueling that debate.

              As for Marcus' idea of abolishing catch and release, I simply disagree. Yes, people certainly come for the King salmon. But why should somebody like me have to keep a rainbow trout that I won't eat rather than do everything I can to help it live another day. I have always respected your opinions on this forum, and I even respect your desire to never practice catch and release, I simply don't agree with them for myself. Aside from that though, I wonder how many people actually catch more than 2 Kenai kings per year, releasing the ones they don't want. It seems that we have many tourists that come up each year and go out on a guided trip for a day, maybe two, and are often unsuccessful in catching anything, let alone that trophy king. Abolishing catch and release does not seem like it would have any impact on this. Granted, there are probably some Alaskans that spend enormous amounts of time on that river each summer chasing their trophy, but I bet this number would be negligible as compared to the number of people who get guides for just a day or two.

              Also, even you concede that anglers would rotate through the system more quickly. Given that most guides are booked solid at the height of king season, I don't see how forcing someone to take two fish will solve the problem. If a guide takes one client out for five days, or takes five clients out for one day at a time, that guides boat is still on the river five days.

              I really don't know what the solution is. Maybe one motor day on the river a week? Or just two? Who knows. I would not want to put people out of work nor would I want to see those towns who rely on the tourism revenue go under because nobody is there to fish. It is definitely a tough situation. But I guarantee money will drive the ultimate decisions. Take a look at the lower 48. Several great salmon rivers have been dammed up, real estate put on the banks, etc., all because of money driving the political force. I think Alaska is simply catching up in those regards.
              Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

              Comment


              • #8
                Questions...

                Does the DEC break the 600 gallons of fuel by the type of motor (2 or 4 stroke) that the boaters use? Where do they take the readings and is the methods sound for determing the amount of fuel in the river at any given time. Is there any valid studies on the effect of the fuel on the wildlife in the river. The reason that I ask is groups like the DEC have an agenda and love using "junk science" to suit their needs. A dutuned motor is not running as it was designed, therefore it is more likely to add polutants to the water. The economy of the Kenai DEPENDS on the people who come to fish period. Anyone that was there when the river shut down to reds this year understands that. If the river really needs to be off limits to boaters, so be it. If I have to buy a new motor if I intend to still fish the Kenai, then I will. If the guides have to be limited, lets do it. But PLEASE if such drastic measures are needed, make sure we are doing it for the right scientific reasons and not to stroke the egos of the "enviormentalist wacko's" that love to bend public policy so they can say they are "saving" the planet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  First-hand facts. . .

                  For first-hand, factual answers to your questions and speculation, try the folks below. That way, you can decide for yourself whether they're environmental wacko's or not. Let us know what you learn.

                  Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation:
                  http://www.dec.state.ak.us/

                  Kenai Watershed Forum:
                  http://www.kenaiwatershed.org/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The only way to truly know the effects of the hydrocarbons is to let more and more boats on, and increase the fuel emmissions to the point that there is damage to the fish, and I don't think anyone wants that to happen.

                    I'd have to guess that the vast majority of that fuel is coming from old tech 2 strokes. Thus the best way to reduce pollution w/o limiting access would be a ban on old tech two strokes. Yes, some folks would have to pony up for new motors, but what's the alternative, have the entire river closed to power boats?
                    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

                    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Not that easy. . .

                      Don't think it's that easy, Paul H. First, 2-strokes comprise a small percentage of the motors on the river, usually in the 10% range on any given day (but has occassionally been as high as 28%), and, second, what 2-strokes are present are usually fished for much shorter time periods than the 4-strokes used by the commercial sportfishing industy, which fishes hard, twelve hours a day.

                      Regardless of how one tries to spin this thing, placing the blame here and there, the problem is too much boat use. Period. And boat use is increasing what with new residents and new commercial operators every year.

                      And, yes, closing the river to power boats is an option. Not a pleasant one, to be sure, but an option nevertheless. No easy, painless exits from this dilemma. . .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree....

                        Limiting power boats sounds like a good solution as long as I'm included It would be fair to limit ALL power boat trafic and only allow drift boats, and hell may freeze over...Like Marcus said, no simple solutions. I'm still trying to figure out if we really have a problem......

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What to say?

                          Originally posted by SockeyOrange View Post
                          I'm still trying to figure out if we really have a problem......
                          The state's water quality standards, the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation, the Federal Environmental Agency, and the Clean Water Act all say we do . . . have problem, that is.

                          How about some solutions?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            While the older 2 strokes are a small percentage of the boats, they are gross polluters. Aproximately 1/3 of the fuel going through an old two stroke is pumped out the exhaust raw, as well as the lubricating oil. Even if those boats make up 10% of the engines on the water, I wouldn't be the least bit suprised to see them putting out 50% of the pollution, and if they accont for 1/3 of the boats, upwards of 90% of the pollution.

                            Now the over-crowding, safety and bank errosion is is solely due to boats on the river, and is going to be a lively discussion as to who, when and how restrictions will be implemented.
                            Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

                            If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              DEC's information. . .

                              Originally posted by Paul H View Post
                              While the older 2 strokes are a small percentage of the boats, they are gross polluters. Aproximately 1/3 of the fuel going through an old two stroke is pumped out the exhaust raw, as well as the lubricating oil. Even if those boats make up 10% of the engines on the water, I wouldn't be the least bit suprised to see them putting out 50% of the pollution, and if they accont for 1/3 of the boats, upwards of 90% of the pollution.

                              Now the over-crowding, safety and bank errosion is is solely due to boats on the river, and is going to be a lively discussion as to who, when and how restrictions will be implemented.
                              Paul H: If I recall correctly, DEC said last night that while 4-strokes pollute less than do 2-strokes, 4-strokes still emit 75% or so of what a 2-stoke does. And as Nerka reported above, "DEC also stated that horsepower increases will not solve the fuel problem and that a reduction in boats or use patterns will be necessary."

                              Comment

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