Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cook(ing) the Inlet Books

Does anyone lament the loss of the snow geese that used to use the flats as a feeding ground on their yearly migration? KSRM used to have a contest to spot their first arrival in the spring. And what about the caribou? I didn’t see a single one there this past summer.

It wasn’t too long ago that you could often spot beluga whales in the lower Kenai. You still might get lucky and see a few come up the mouth chasing hooligan or salmon, but it’s obvious that their numbers are way down.

NOAA may list the Cook Inlet belugas as endangered and designate Cook Inlet as critical habitat and the local pols are pounding their chests in protest.

Dave Carey and Pat Porter have called for public hearings on the Kenai. NOAA says it doesn’t have the resources to do so, but you can do so electronically here. The comment period is over on January 31, 2010. The National Marine Fisheries Service will present information on Jan 14 at KCHS about the process and the current state of the whales.

The Kenai Borough accepted a $700,000 grant from NOAA this summer to help study the whale and habitiat. No word from Mayor Carey just how that money is being spent. Of course, for anything meaningful to be learned, that amount of money would barely get ideas off of the board. Is the Kenai Borough really the proper venue needed to conduct serious research?

Mike Chenault is one of many state legislatures in a panic about the proposed listing. Not surprisingly, Don Young’s opinion is worth more than any scientific finding. Governor Parnell is threatening to sue the feds.

The Mayor of Anchorage is on the soapbox too. But I hope you all read Kenai Peninsula College's Alan Boraas’s ADN op-ed piece about the absence of sewage treatment in Anchorage. Maybe Mr. Sullivan should be a bit more concerned about what Anchorage flushes into the inlet. Or maybe that is why he is a bit worried.

What do all of the Pols have in common? Let's see...they want to discount every study that has concerns about the beluga population, they want to treat Cook Inlet as Anchorage's toilet, and they want the inlet to be the industrial waste dump of the oil and coal industry. Yes, these are the people we elect. Are these also the people that we are?

And the benefit of their reactions? Well, I'm still working on that. Best I can figure out is that they each think the critical habitat listing will be the end of development in the area. And unless we continue to pollute and destroy, that Alaska won't be a worthwhile place to live.

That is speculation and there is a difference of opinion. Do read G. Haskett's, the regional US F&W Director's piece in the ADN as well as Alaska's War On Science by Rick Steiner.

What's wrong with expecting industries and municipalities to be clean? Those of us who have been around for a few years and still have a functioning memory remember the flaming Cuyahoga River, the Bhopal incident, and closer to home, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. I could devote the entire blog to industrial accidents and never cover them all.

Alaska is hardly the pristine place of imagination, but it is the best place we have left. Really - where else is there on the planet? Do we really need to destroy what we have?


kodiakgriff said...

Things are changing, that's for sure. We need to figure out what is causing what, before we try to intervene.
Some species cyclic downturns are a naturally caused event, some are not. The trick is for us to decipher which is which.
Unfortunately we have not been around long enough, or at least not kept records long enough to know for sure.
Don't get me wrong, the plight of the Beluga whale worries me and should they be deemed endangered, so be it. I want my grandchildren to witness all that is the beauty of Alaska. My concern is not the recognition of an endangered species, but the steps the government takes to protect it. We have all witnessed the damage caused by an unnatural boom in a species numbers as well as the harm caused by it's depletion.
It is a delicate balance at best and we should be very careful which end we jump on.
Likin' your blog!

Penns Hardware, Wilsons Store said...

Great comments about belugas and the nonordinary reality of the current political attudes from folks like Mayor Carey and the entire delegation of R's. Never doubt that narrow minds and re-elections are more important than clean water and healthy belugas. Oh, the same folks who promote the outrageous "salmon for all" dipnet scene don't get the clean water connection....

Wolfe Tone said...

Perhaps Mayor Carey, Dan Sullivan and Don Young can use the $700K given to the Kenai Peninsula Borough to hire a PR firm to wage a fake conference and lobby Congress against the Beluga whale critical habitat designation, just like the Alaska Legislative Council wants to do against the "threatened species" designation of the polar bear under the ESA.

Hey, it's easier than actually debating the science.

Of course, the Borough Assembly would have to agree.

(yes, it's sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to say "Cuyahoga" River? As in, the one that burned in Cleveland, Ohio? Located in "Cuyahoga" County, Ohio? Just askin'.

Souldotna said...

Kould it be that I kan't figure out the hard 'C' thing?!?

I'll make the edit when I can access the 'net with my computer rather than my phone. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't read Dan Sullivan's op ed where he outlines his intentions, you really should.

This is the position the governor and his minions has staked out.


If this op ed doesn't reflect your views, you'd best start making some noise now because the governor and his minions aren't waiting, this is pre-emptive action they have already taken and it can only be that they will escalate.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Souldotna, let's try it one more time:


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