OPINION: Letters - Aug. 3
August 3rd, 2017 | Staff Report
Just in the last 24 hours I observed the following in Homer:
1. At the Lake Street light, people throwing fast-food trash out the driver's side window of a truck onto the roadway;
2. At the boat harbor, a truck parked at the loading/unloading spot at the top of a ramp, with no one around, preventing others from loading/unloading;
3. Yet another item (a fish tote) stolen from our skiff;
4. A boat in a hurry making a wake in the harbor;
5. A sport boat blasting at full speed through a raft of about 60 sleeping otters;
6. Someone on our street again running his loud boat motor in his driveway, as he did the night before at 10:30;
7. Someone brazenly depositing household trash in our private dumpster;
What is going on here? Why are so many in Homer showing such disrespect for their fellow citizens and our environment? Is this the new Homer?
Yukon Island land dispute
People may wonder why I will be intermittently disturbing kayakers on Yukon Island by running my chainsaw near their landing area.
It is in protest to Fish and Wildlife Service for violations of the archaeological reserve, their own regulations, and normal expectations of government agencies leasing public land.
It is because the True North Kayak Adventures "base camp" was once part of our homestead, which we reli?quished under great public pressure so it would be put in the Yukon Island Archaeological Reserve and National Historic Landmark. The public, especially Pratt Museum precursors, passionately thought it should not be private or commercial.
Later it was also added to the Maritime Refuge System and Fish and Wildlife Service named the managing agency (Park Service requested the initial withdrawal and designation).
Fish and Wildlife Service has consistently failed to meet their obligations to the Archaeology Reserve. They treat the island as just the same as the other 3.4 million acres they manage.
The permit is renewed and revised behind closed doors without public notice. They say they are tied to very low per person rates so the permit costs more to administer than it earns.
The permit is a huge subsidy to True North Kayak Adventures. The company enjoys such an advantage over kayak operations that they simply dominate Yukon Island business.
Fish and Wildlife Service says "The refuge was established to conserve wildlife and marine resources." The kayak operation displaces wildlife. Endangered eiders used to nest there. The operation is an eyesore and damages the refuge experience for the tour boats which slow down along that shore of the island.
I recently sent a letter and met with Fish and Wildlife Service officials. I asked only that before they renew the permit they have an open public review and hearing, a credible finding of a need for the concession, and to show the liability insurance policy. They would not agree to those modest suggestions.
The officials say that there is a public value in the permit because it facilitates wildlife observation. That is nonsense. There are numerous places available on Hesketh Island and Eldred Passage to easily access Yukon Island. There is no need for this doubly reserved public land to be made commercial.
After 20 years of being polite and writing letters, I've run out of patience. People will know that there is a dispute.
W. Findlay Abbott