Aren’t we willing to protect salmon?

The anadromous stream ordinances originated with Drew Scalzi, during his tenure on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. At the time we knew it didn’t begin to go far enough to protect the peninsula’s very precious resource, the salmon, but it was a start, and concentrated on the Kenai and other major rivers. As assembly member Bill Smith recently pointed out, in spite of the ordinance that controls what can and cannot occur along the river banks, it has not had a detrimental effect on property values in those areas where implemented. And those who abide by the ordinance also are offered tax credits for having done so.
Are we willing to pay this price, to protect a resource many of us came to enjoy, a resource that took a downturn this year (the Kenai kings) with a very negative economic impact throughout the peninsula? Sadly, it would appear some don’t care.
During my nine-year tenure on the assembly, one of my biggest frustrations was a public that often did not pay attention to what was before the body, until after the fact. I do believe that also is the case here. As I recall, our local papers ran articles about the ordinance before it was passed. I also recall hearing about it on our radio stations.
Why should noticing each property owner be the borough’s responsibility entirely? Do not we as citizens have a responsibility?
I commend Bill Smith (and Mako Haggerty, too,) for their representation on the assembly and thankless job they do so well. The pay is a pittance compared to the time involved and abuse sometimes heaped. Goes with the territory, and they know that, too. Yet they, and those of us who have served, do so out of love of community.
The borough mayor has appointed a committee to review the ordinance and its impacts. There possibly will be some compromise. But I hope as they work through this, we all keep in mind the resource the ordinance is trying to protect. As Bill so beautifully expressed it, “Without salmon we are not the Kenai, we are not Alaska.”
May you all have enjoyed a Merry Christmas, and may the coming year bring protection to the salmon throughout the peninsula.
Milli Martin

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