DNR commissioner rescinds adoption of new Kachemak Bay parks management plan

The new Department of Natural Resources commissioner on Friday rescinded a last-minute adoption of the Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Park Management Plan. In a determination issued Dec. 7, DNR Commissioner Corri A. Feige clarified the status of the plan adopted by former DNR Commissioner Andrew T. Mack on Dec. 2.

Mack, former Gov. Bill Walker’s commissioner, adopted the plan the day before Walker’s administration ended on Dec. 3. However, Feige wrote in the determination that because of office closures related to the Nov. 30 earthquake, Mack did not issue a notice of his action. Feige became commissioner after Gov. Mike Dunleavy was inaugurated on Dec. 3.

“No action has been taken to implement the December 2nd Plan,” Feige wrote in her determination.

In her determination, Feige also reinstated the former 1995 management plan. Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park will continue to be managed under the guidelines of the 1995 plan and pending completion of the planning process in developing a new plan, Feige wrote.

The draft management plan would have updated the 1995 plan.The draft plan includes management guidance and recommendations for the two parks covering much of the lower Kenai Peninsula along Kachemak Bay and around the tip of the peninsula. The draft plan also includes the Diamond Creek State Recreation Site, Eveline State Recreation Site and Overlook Park State Recreation Site in the Homer area. The plan also includes a trail management plan with recommendations for trail sustainability, design and management criteria.

Park users had raised concerns about the draft plan. A nonprofit group supporting the parks, the Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park, criticized the plan. Among the issues they raised are changes to the Tutka Bay Hatchery, changes in recreational and natural zones, and proposals to allow helicopter skiing and drone use.

According to Feige, DNR staff will prepare an issue response summary to address public comments received for the draft management plan. A list of recommended revisions to the draft plan will also be prepared. Once that is done, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on a new Intent to Adopt version of the plan.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.