Beach access needed for coal

According to the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area Management Plan, “incidental gathering of loose coal for personal use on Kachemak Bay beaches will continue to be allowed.” In addition, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game — with certain stipulations and upon review — can issue a “special area permit to the general public for off-road use of motorized vehicles” for approved activities on Bishops Beach below mean high tide.

We, of limited means, who heat our homes in the winter with coal, find it unbelievable that the “down with humans” crowd would deny us access to Bishops Beach lest a clam get crushed or a sea gull inconvenienced. But apparently, the hikers, bikers and horseback riders will be allowed to roam the beach at will; never mind that their presence also disturbs birds, kills tiny invertebrates and pollutes the sand every time their horse dumps.

There are thousands of acres in Kachemak Bay where one can commune with nature, but there are very few places to gather loose coal. And I would argue that our fundamental need to stay warm in January trumps their quest to create another private playground.

I ask the Homer City Council to leave the beach open for vehicles gathering coal from Oct. 1 to March 31. As for other user groups causing problems, address your prohibitions specifically toward them.

If those attempting to close the beach prevail in this debate, then I can only hope that someday some rabid environmentalist threatens to cut off the fuel oil, propane and natural gas they rely on to heat their abode. I’d bet they would change their tune in a hurry.

Robert Townsend

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