Letters to the Editor

Homer City Council shows support

for federal funds for key programs

The Kachemak Bay Research Reserve Community Council, which consists of appointed volunteers and agencies who support Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR) research, training, and education programs, wants to thank the Homer City Council for passing Resolution 17-059 asking that our congressional delegation “restore full funding to federal agencies that provide vital support to the economy of Homer, Alaska.” This includes KBNERR.

KBNERR is one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) special sites and is managed jointly by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Alaska, Alaska Center for Conservation Science. KBNERR’s mission is to enhance understanding and appreciation of the Kachemak Bay estuary and adjacent waters and to ensure that these ecosystems remain healthy and productive. Its emphasis on user-oriented research and monitoring, combined with strategic collaboration has earned it respect amongst peers and good value for taxpayers. Some of the reserve’s recent findings and ongoing work include discoveries as to the value of headwaters with juvenile salmon in the Anchor River; system-wide monitoring of temperature, salinity, and other parameters vital to understanding our marine environment; harmful algal bloom and harmful species surveys; study of clam declines in the bay; and ocean acidification monitoring.

KBNERR research, education, stewardship and training programs provide a multiplier effect to the federal investment it receives; leveraging a $619,000 annual NOAA investment into an additional $1.2 million in grant funding. These grants, as well as expenditures by visiting collaborators, provide an important source of outside revenue to the Homer economy. Furthermore, as a partner under the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), the KBNERR injects over $300,000 into UAA in the form of grant overhead. This is nearly an order of magnitudes greater than the General Funds that KBNERR receives from the UAA.

But the public service that KBNERR has reliably provided residents and visitors is now in jeopardy. The FY 2018 proposed budget released by the Trump Administration on March 9, 2017, includes drastic cuts to the NOAA budget, including the elimination of NERRS. Without funding from NERRS, KBNERR would no longer be able to keep its doors open

Despite the Trump proposed budget, we are optimistic that funding can be restored to NERRS (and thereby KBNERR). The March 17 issue of the Alaska Dispatch News said, “the member of Alaska’s congressional delegation, despite sharing a political party with the president for the first time in years, were not keen on the cuts.” In fact, in a recent letter Rep. Young said that. “During the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process I was lead sponsor on a bipartisan letter asking for over $977.7 million in funding for NOAA wet programs. We included funding for 23 separate programs within the letter, which included ….$27 million to support the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) to meet the basic requirements of operating the growing number of reserve sites and products the program delivers.”

So while there is hope, we must still build support. Resolution 17-059 provides a good example of the support needed, and we thank the city council for this. We encourage all those familiar with KBNERR’s work to contact our congressional delegation to also express support.

George Matz, chair

Kachemak Bay Research Reserve

Community Council

Noise is a quality of life issue

Thanks to staff writer Mike Armstrong for his June 22 article reporting on local concerns about excess aircraft noise being generated — primarily by the single-engine Cessna 185, 206/207s — in the takeoff and climb-out mode.

In fairness to the local commercial operators with whom I’ve discussed the issue, for the most part they’ve evolved reasonable, rational operating procedures and routing to somewhat mitigate it. But the fact remains that the ear-splitting noise is inherent to their normal operations. Ultimately, in 15-20 years, their anciently designed engines will become too expensive to operate and will be replaced by newer technology. Meanwhile, the noise will continue.

The human ear was not physiologically designed for the sustained high pitch noises inherent in modern American civilization which ultimately can, and likely will over the long-term, cause hearing damage.

As with all issues concerning the human body, the physiological aspect impacts the psychological. I fully concur with those who voice their concern, irritation, and downright anger induced by that unearthy racket. Noise really is a quality of life issue for many of us, and thus indirectly affects property value.

Of course some people will continue to scoff at such sensitivity, arguing that one should simply grin and bear it as part of city life. I used to be there. Real men, 45 years ago, viewed protective headset use with contempt. Only now, after sustaining permanent hearing damage, do I fully appreciate and regret my youthful stupidity.

Larry Slone

Scholarship appreciated

I would like to thank the generous community members and organizations of Homer who offer scholarships for students to pursue their goals after high school. I am honored to accept the Drew Scalzi Memorial Maritime Scholarship from the Homer Foundation, as well as awards from the Homer Elks Lodge, Kachemak Bay Lions Club and American Legion Post 16. I greatly appreciate the support and will be using these funds to pursue a degree in environmental science at Eastern Washington University this fall.

Megan Pitzman

Award encourages young artist

I was honored to receive a $250 award from the Ptarmigan Arts Visual Arts Scholarship Fund from the Homer Foundation. Being a part of their group for an evening and sharing my artwork as well as my aspirations was an encouraging experience.

Moreover, Gary Lyon and the many board members of Ptarmigan Arts were very kind and knowledgeable and they received the three finalists, including myself, with pleasure and support.

I plan to use this fund toward art supplies and packing material for the designs that I sell. This money is greatly appreciated and will be used wisely! I would also like to send my gratitude to Homer Ptarmigan Arts, and I look forward to applying again next year.

Maggie Box

Kudos to excellence

It is amazing how much two people can accomplish in a marriage of minds in such a short time. Bryan and Karen Zak have thoroughly covered the “innkeepers” market in Homer. With the updated, cordial Welcome Mat they offer, they give such a grand vision to the pristine experience of the calm and beautiful Kachemak Bay. The combined experience of this couple is phenomenal. They win “hands down” bringing a unique stewardship of comfort and pleasure to our treasured Hamlet by the Sea. Do we need more?

Thank you Bryan Zak, Homer’s mayor, and, Karen Zak, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce, for raising the standard of tourism to its highest level. Surely your services are intended for the survival of all Homer residents.

Maka Fairman