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  • What is "habitat"?

    Well for those who don't follow Kenai peninsula Borough (KPB) politics heres what's going on.
    The KPB recently passed burough ordinance 2011-12. Here's the link to what this is.
    http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/Assem...1/O2011-12.pdf
    http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assem...t/01813000.HTM
    Basicaly the KPB passed this law that makes it illegal to destroy any "habitat" within 50' of the high water mark on any fish stream on the peninsula.
    How this will fully affect us outdoorsmen/women has yet to be seen.
    Certainly digging for gold in the streambank to goldpan will be off limits. But now we have to wonder who else will be affected. So if you drive your ATV within this zone and leave a tire track in the mud will this get you in trouble? Even in the Kasilof dipnet zone?
    What about trampling the stream bank while fishing? Could tying your boat up to a tree/brush destroy habitat?
    If you have property on one of these creeks/rivers and mow your lawn is that habitat destruction?
    Leave any evidence of camping like a tent footprint of packed down grass within this zone is this included?
    What level of destruction should be the rule of law?
    Who does the borough employ who can/will enforce this new law? The KPB doesn't employ any law enforcement personnel so....
    I did go to last months KPB assembly meeting and got my three minutes to oppose this but it seems my voice fell on deaf ears.
    I am all for protecting fish and their habitat but feel this law and others like it go too far.
    So my big question #1 for all of you is how do you define "HABITAT"?
    #2 is how do you define what constitutes "HABITAT DESTRUCTION"
    #3 what does Alaska's outdoor community feel about such laws?
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

  • #2
    Good question!

    In the case of flowing waters, protecting bank "habitat" would primarily revolve around restricting or prohibiting activities that cause erosion.

    1) Habitat describes the entirety of the physical places, spaces, and zones (the biome) where wildlife species live out their lifecycles. For rivers that includes the banks as trees play a role in erosion control, cover and regulating water temperature.
    2) Habitat destruction is any activity that compromises the integrity of the ecosystem that supports wildlife.
    3) IMO too many laws are overly broad and this sounds like one. If the KPB is going to pass such an ordinance then they have an obligation to be specific as to what, where, how and possibly when.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Erik in AK View Post
      Good question!

      In the case of flowing waters, protecting bank "habitat" would primarily revolve around restricting or prohibiting activities that cause erosion.

      1) Habitat describes the entirety of the physical places, spaces, and zones (the biome) where wildlife species live out their lifecycles. For rivers that includes the banks as trees play a role in erosion control, cover and regulating water temperature.
      2) Habitat destruction is any activity that compromises the integrity of the ecosystem that supports wildlife.
      3) IMO too many laws are overly broad and this sounds like one. If the KPB is going to pass such an ordinance then they have an obligation to be specific as to what, where, how and possibly when.
      Yeah your last point really has some of us in the KPB confused as to what the deal is.
      Who does the burough have who can enforce this and what are the penalties? The borough does not employ any LEO's of
      any type.
      Our fear is this will close down even more recreational areas for fishing,camping ,gold ppanning,atv's etc..
      "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

      "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

      Comment


      • #4
        Ruts created from atvs hold rain water that supports numerous organisms and the stoppage of atv use would destroy these habitats. Tent footprints and other camping related activities help thin overgrown vegetation that improves and supports local habitat. Most people will find that using common sense instead of their mouths do more good then harm. See spotted owls in the northwest and the problems that are associated with saving them. I am all for supporting habitat management and restoration, quite often I'll pack out all the cans that rafters leave in their fire pits, but picking a species to protect ends up harming the other species in the end. Hypocritical logic rules.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sounds to me like the Borough just seized 50' X frontage length from every property owner on an adrominous stream.
          Granted, there is little enforcement possibilities but still tells us who is running the Kenai Borough.
          These broad vague "laws" are used as the basis for more regulations, ruining everyone's life.
          Mike
          Mike
          www.alaskaatvclub.org
          There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.:eek:

          Comment


          • #6
            Some here may be aware that AK BHA has been working on a Chuitna coal project campaign to prohibit strip mining within or through any anadromous streams. This issue goes beyond the Kenai Peninsula Borough really.

            As far as the "setback" ordinance that passed recently, we signed on with a coalition of other orgs in support of the ordinance, here's the list:
            Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition
            Kenai River Sportfishing Association
            Kenai Watershed Forum
            South-Central Alaska Dipnetters Association
            Cook Inletkeepers
            United Cook Inlet Drift Association
            Kenai Peninsula Fisherman’s Association
            Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association
            Alaska Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

            One of our concerns with the ordinance, and certainly concern from Alaska Miner's Association, was assurances it would not prohibit placer mining activities Borough wide. That was all hashed out at the meeting, and the assembly would not have passed it if we weren't sure that certain activities would still be permitted under existing permitting regulations with the state.

            Having said that, was this the perfect outcome? No it wasn't. And likely it may be challenged in court too by PacRim coal, the Delaware corporation looking to develop a coal strip mine on Middle Creek of the Chuitna, or maybe even the state. We'll see.

            But here's the thing...it would seem to me to be a no-brainer for every Alaskan hunter and angler that strip mining right in - within and through - anadromous streams, actually digging up the streambed for miles, for decades, and diverting it elsewhere, is not compatible with salmon sustainability, it's not something that can be remediated without severe impacts to the fishery. This is not placer mining we're talking about, it's a whole different scenario with far different impacts.

            There were many people working on different angles to prohibit strip mining right though Middle Creek, a trib of the Chuitna. We've got more info about our take on our website:
            http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/Chuitna.html

            Read Jim Rearden's take, he pretty much lays it out as we see it.
            Sincerely,






            Mark Richards
            www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

            Comment


            • #7
              Mark I don't support the Chuitna coal mine either. This ordinance though goes way beyond strip mining.
              That's why I asked what is Habitat. It might seem this is only to prohibit strip mining but it can and does go a lot further.
              If I was to dig a 1' deep hole on crescent creek and fill my gold pan witch is definetly placer mining I have just destroyed Habitat.
              If my dads neighbor on the Kasilof river cuts down a beetle kill spruce in his front yard to save it falling on his house he has just destroyed Habitat.
              If somone rides an atv through a stream to hunt moose and tears up a 1' square of grass climbing up the other bank they have just destroyed Habitat.
              How do I Placer mine,other than in river dredging, without digging? Any digging would be habitat destruction right?
              It sure sounds great for fish doesn't it? I am sure it will help the fish no doubt about it. But when they start closing down more riverbanks to fishing because of habitat destruction from all those walking the bank what do we do then? a lot of prime fishing areas will be closed forever once this starts to be enforced just like many areas on the Kenai River.
              There was a commercial fisherman who tried to stop dipnetting due to habitat destruction. Maybe this ordinance will do what he couldn't. All he has to do is show evidence of habitat destruction. The way this is loosely worded that shouldn't be that hard to prove.
              "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

              "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

              Comment


              • #8
                I see. It is the "If I can't stop the thing I don't want, I'll stop everybody from doing anything" approach to getting your way.
                Gee thanks folks.
                Mike
                Mike
                www.alaskaatvclub.org
                There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.:eek:

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mike Echo View Post
                  I see. It is the "If I can't stop the thing I don't want, I'll stop everybody from doing anything" approach to getting your way.
                  Gee thanks folks.
                  Mike

                  Sounds like the "I don't understand a policy well enough to provide comments and ideas of substance so I'll resort to mischaracterizing and exaggerating the policy because it must be bad" approach.

                  Maybe you should read the policy Mike and actually try to understand what it does and doesn't do??? Sounds like there are an awful lot of things that a landowner can still do within the very narrow 50' buffer strip. (See below) Are you suggesting that utility and road easements that pass through private property, commonly 50', with fairly reasonable restrictions, are "land seized"?





                  kasilofChris- Did you pose your questions to the KPB??? (in writing is best) Seems like asking the people writing/reviewing the policy would be a good starting point, if your questions aren't answered by thoroghly reading the policy. Did you read the definitions? Also, did you read the following section?


                  "B. The following activities, to the extent they do not result in significant erosion or damage to riparian habitat, or result in or increase ground or water pollution, do not require the issuance of a permit under this chapter:
                  1. Minor vegetation management (trimming, pruning, or removal of hazardous trees)
                  2. Private non-commercial recreational uses that do not involve construction, excavation or fill of land
                  3. Construction, installation, repair and maintenance of ladders, steps, cantilevered walkways, platforms, docks, and bank restoration and protection and maintenance dredging that are regulated by and require a permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, State Parks Division, and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other applicable agencies. The activity must comply with all conditions and regulations imposed on such activity.
                  4. Boardwalks and gratewalks with less than 75 percent but a minimum of 25 percent light penetration must be constructed so that no part, other than the supporting posts, are less than 18 inches off the ground. [....]
                  5. Stairways, steps and ladders[......] 6. Fish cleaning stations. (Covered and/or walled in fish cleaning stations shall require a conditional use permit.)"




                  Based on the above, seems like your dad's friend on the Kas can cut a beetle killed spruce, or several, with no problem. It's not logging until it's cutting more than 50 trees per acre, and if that's the case it still can be permitted fairly reasonably, just not a complete clear cut.


                  In fact, most of your questions are fairly easily answered if you read the policy. Especially read the definitions.


                  H. "Logging" shall mean removal or cutting down more than 50 trees per acre that have a breast diameter height of 6" or more.

                  "K. "Riparian habitat" shall mean the areas within and adjacent to the river containing spawning and rearing habitat for salmon or that provide immediate cover or stability for salmon and eggs at all stages of development."





                  I would be interested to hear someone explain why a 50 foot buffer where things like fuel tanks, construction, and substantial logging activities are scrutinized is a bad idea.


                  Sounds like a lot of manufactured horror to me. Healthy riparian habitat results in healthy juvenile salmon.


                  I think (most) everyone can handle a 50' buffer where we collectively try to minimize fuel leaks, shoddy construction, and excessive tree cutting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by andweav View Post
                    kasilofChris- Did you pose your questions to the KPB??? (in writing is best) Seems like asking the people writing/reviewing the policy would be a good starting point, if your questions aren't answered by thoroghly reading the policy. Did you read the definitions? Also, did you read the following section?
                    I will admit I just read the current proposal that doesn't address much of this but not much of the original document they based it off of.
                    Yes I did sit for 6 hours just to get my 3 minutes to speak on this at a burough assembly meeting.
                    I sat from 7-12 the first night and then from 9-10 the next day until they got to this.
                    Then after a few comments they tabled it until later and I was on the slope at work.
                    It is nice to know that certain burough employees now make more than the burough mayor who turned down a raise he said he didn't want/need. And that they still gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the non-departmentals who aren't even part of the burough.
                    But yes this question was asked of and unanswered by the burough assembly.
                    One problem with some of this stuff it is easily ammended and changed to become more restrictive quite easily.
                    Also the activities that will require a permit may not be so easily permitted. They don't have to approve your permit just because you have properly filled out the application and turned it in to the right people.
                    Now if said beetle kill falls in the river dads neighbor is now unable to cut the tree as this is written.It becomes part of the riparian habitat.
                    I see there is a part about private non-commercial excavation.
                    How do you fill a gold pan without some excavation? Seriously?I have always excavated some material to fill mine!
                    The GPAA (gold prospectors association of america) Kenai chapter had a meeting with a guy who works on one of the buroughs commitees and has studied this very well. He told us this would affect recreational placer mining the way it is written.
                    We were also told by the commitee member this would affect atv use around streams as well as many other activities.
                    One of the latest enviromental issues on the slope is we will no longer be allowed to pee on the pads or the tundra! I am serious they brought this up at a safety meeting. No telling how far these laws will go once passed.
                    So much depends on how you define "Significant erosion or damage".
                    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Chris, while I sure respect your concerns I think you overblow some of them. I mean, to intimate that you now can't pan for gold with this borough amendment is over the top.

                      This habitat protection ordinance was first put in place to cover the Kenai. In 2000, it was amended to include more tributaries of the Kenai and some additional streams on the east side of Cook Inlet. During that time, this same ordinance/law did not preclude all the things you are talking about, like ATV use or cutting "hazard" trees or panning for gold. That won't change now with the addition of all the other
                      anadromous streams cataloged by ADFG that are in the Borough.

                      There have always been permits required for certain things, like placer mining, and one must get permits from the appropriate agencies for those endeavors. The Borough gives out conditional use permits too for certain things that require a permit.

                      The definitions are listed in the ordinance. Here is link to the permitting page for the borough:
                      http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/kenairivercenter/Permits/PermitDescriptions.html

                      Would not at all say this is "easily amended," this was a two year process to get this latest amendment passed. Public meetings etc. Honestly do not see this changing either, it's the same protections listed for over a decade now, with additional streams added.

                      Best,
                      Mark Richards
                      www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Mark with all due respect how am I to fill my gold pan without excavating a small hole?
                        It doesn't give a size or amount just that private excavation isn't allowed.

                        "B. The following activities, to the extent they do not result in significant erosion or damage to riparian habitat, or result in or increase ground or water pollution, do not require the issuance of a permit under this chapter:
                        1. Minor vegetation management (trimming, pruning, or removal of hazardous trees)
                        2. Private non-commercial recreational uses that do not involve construction, excavation or fill of land


                        Again I must excavate some material to fill my gold pan and pan out in the stream or run through my sluice box.
                        A permit was NEVER required on the peninsula for gold panning or sluicing on a recreational basis.
                        Dredgers yes and it cost $50 for the GPAA crescent creek claim area. I do not currently dredge so I don't need the $50 permit.
                        You don't see nor will you ever see anyone recreational placer mining on the Kenai river. I wonder why? could it be the same ordinance as this thats on the Kenai river?
                        Do you know why the regs for the Chugach national forest and the Kenai national wildlife refuge say you may only use a gold pan and shovel?
                        It used to say only a gold pan could be used until a few years ago. There was a forest ranger who stopped a recreational panner in the Chugach.He said use of a shovel was not allowed for recreational mining as it wasn't in the regs. The guy put his shovel down and grabbed a large cook spoon from his camping stuff and began to fill his pan. Again he was stopped . He then used his gold pan to scoop some material up and was again stopped as he was now using his goldpan as a shovel and not a pan.
                        They had to change the wording in the regs so at least people could fill their gold pans with gravel to pan. True story.
                        I know that is an extreme case but you never know how they will interpret the regs if they aren't very precisely worded.
                        Are you going to pay my fines if I get a ticket for digging within this 50' zone for my recreational prospecting?
                        As far as it being easily ammended have you ever personally been to a KPB assembly meeting?
                        The president reads the ordinance then they ask the assembly if they want to comment then the public gets 3 minutes each to speak. They take a vote and it gets passed. If not for the public comments most things take 5 minutes to get passed.
                        Sure there is the commitee meetings earlier in the day but by meeting time they have decided how they will vote and they do so in short order often with little regard to the public testimony.
                        They often take a bill say a budget bill and say something like the fire dept in area X wants $10,000 extra for a new fire gizmo. The assembly member wanting to add the money presents it the president looks around and says" anyone opposed? seeing none the ammendment passes". they add it to the bill before them. Then they vote on the bill it passes and area X get the money for the gizmo. All in about 5-10 minutes.
                        "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                        "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Andweav, easements for roads and utilities were in the deed to the property when it was sold. You knew what you were buying. If the gov needed an easement later, the owner is compensated or it is going to court. With this - as it effects currently owned property - it is the Borough SEIZING the land along the river from the private owners.
                          And further along the same line, it has been this way along the Kenai itself for a while - this expands the seizure to all androminous streams in the Borough. And leaves the determination up to s different level of the State government to define the extent of the seizure (by the state designating adrominous waters).
                          What part of government stealing from private individuals is not understood here?
                          The "it is only 50 trees per acre" so it is OK pitch is just an attempt to rationalize theft.
                          Mike
                          Mike
                          www.alaskaatvclub.org
                          There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.:eek:

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kasilofchrisn
                            Mark with all due respect how am I to fill my gold pan without excavating a small hole?
                            Chris, appreciate that we can talk about this respectfully, thanks.

                            Some of your argument is very similar to what I heard from Joe Demaree, Director for GPAA in AK I think. All this came up at the meetings (I was not there, listened to some online) and in articles written on this. As the KPB resource planner said, though, the borough issued over 20 mining permits this year within the 50' habitat protection zone. It is completely false that recreational mining is prohibited under the old reg or the amended reg that only added the additional streams. And as one of the borough members told Demaree and others like yourself who had concerns, all you have to do is call the River Center, or go to the office, and find out exactly what you can or can't do.

                            It's funny, but your panning=excavation argument reminds me of a guy from debate class, he was like this walking thesaurus and whenever you'd go up against him in a debate he'd twist a word or term into something entirely different to make his point. So, say, we are debating the effects of gold panning by an individual, I take the side that effects are minimal, I use the word "dig," he takes the other side and comes back with the word "excavate." Suddenly "digging" some sand and gravel has become "excavating"! You are kinda doing the same thing here in reverse, because the reg uses the word "excavation" you are implying that what you do when panning actually involves excavation, and thus would require a permit, to make your point <grin>.

                            Again, go into the river center when you find time, be honest and tell them what you have in mind and ask if you need a permit or not. I know there are differing regs on some of the state park or fed lands, if you want to use a sluice box some require permits. For what it's worth, while this debate was going on over the amendment, I did speak with some other recreational miners and told them the same thing, go ask the river center folks and find out for yourself what is currently allowed and what requires a permit and if you can get one, you'll have your answer to fears/concerns over additional streams being added. I never heard back from any of those guys, wish I would have. If you find out differently, or whatever you find out, post it up here, I know I'm interested either way.

                            Beauty of a day here for a change but ADFG just closed down king salmon fishing again because of poor run and wanting returns to get into Canada. Getting hit hard here with that, so are many others in the upper Yukon district.
                            Sincerely,


                            Mark Richards
                            www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Noun 1. excavation - the act of digging. digging, dig
                              creating by removal - the act of creating by removing something



                              Mark I will stop by the Kenai River center when I get off the slope in another week.
                              I will let you know what they say.
                              Either way the way this is worded it says excavation and according to the dictionary that = digging.
                              From what I have read it doesn't give any variances/exemptions for recreational prospecting.
                              How much I can dig before they decide it is habitat destruction is anybodys guess at this point as is the question of who the KPB employs who can and will enforce this.
                              Yes I do know Joe Demaree and he is the state director for the GPAA and President of the Kenai Chapter.
                              Most likely the mining permits they have issued are for dredging witch has been required the last few years and cost $50.
                              No other permits for recreational mining have been required in the past to the best of my knowledge.
                              At least not for sluicing/panning.
                              "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                              "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

                              Comment

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