DNR releases draft plan for Kachemak Bay state parks

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that the comment period has been extended to Nov. 16.

The comment period has been extended to Nov. 16 for the public to offer input on a draft revision of the Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park Management Plan.

After receiving some citizen complaints that the comment period is too short, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources last week said it might extend the comment period, said Monica Alvarez, section chief of Department of Natural Resources, Resource Assessment and Development.

On Monday, DNR announced it would extend the comment period.

An open house session also has been scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. The the public is encouraged to attend to share their thoughts. There will be a short presentation and an opportunity to get more information, provide input and ask questions.

Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park board member Robert Archibald was one of the people who complained about the short timeline. He asked for a 90-day comment period.

“This plan was researched and constructed over a extended planning period,” he wrote in a letter to DNR that he copied to the Homer News. “It would seem only correct for the State of Alaska to allow a longer comment period to allow interested people to reengage and be able to comment.”

The draft management plan updates a plan adopted in 1995. It 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.

“Park uses have increased and changed as the result of changes to the economy, area infrastructure, and tourism trends,” a press release announcing the plan said. “The goal of this plan revision is to address these changes, address management challenges and update recommendations for long-term facility development.”

The plan also includes a trail management plan with recommendations for trail sustainability, design and management criteria.

Available at the Homer Public Library, the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, and online at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/plans/kbay/kbayplan.htm, the 166-page plan makes for some heavy reading. For an overview, Alvarez suggested people look at Chapter 5, “Area-wide Management Direction and Guidelines,” which includes a table that guides readers through the areas where Alaska State Parks does permitting, such as for aircraft landings or even bicycle use.

“My hope is folks dig into that chapter,” Alvarez said.

A matrix or table at the end of Chapter 5 discusses those uses by zones, such as “recreational zone” or “wilderness zone.”

“It really is addressing some of the issues like personal watercraft or helicopters,” Alvarez said. “We do make recommendations in here that are discussed, the permitting aspects of those. It’s by the zones.”

The draft management plan came about after several years of scoping meetings held in Homer and other cities. Some recommendations might not be feasible under current funding, but Alvarez said DNR put those ideas in there for future planning.

“We tried to be responsive to what we heard in our scoping period,” she said. “… A lot of people think it’s time to have it for a future outlook, knowing funding is always an issue for state parks.”

Written comments can be submitted by mail to: Kachemak Bay State Planning, 550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1050, Anchorage, AK 99501, by fax to 907-269-8915 and by email at monica.alvarez@alaska.gov. For more information, call Alvarez at 907-269-8145. Comments submitted become public information.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.