paper was written as part of the 2001 Alaska Ocean Sciences Bowl high
school competition. The conclusions in this report are solely those
of the student authors.
Ninilchik Coastal Community:
50 Year Conservation Plan
Written in part by each
of the following:
Chris Hanson, coach
Ninilchik School team
Ninilchik Elementary/High School
PO Box 39010
Ninilchik, Alaska 99639
Some say that planning for the future will get the human race no where;
we disagree. In the following, you will read our input, thoughts and
opinions concerning the preservation of our marine life.
The area in focus is fisheries, tourism and recreation within the town
and waters of Ninilchik, Alaska. Facts gathered have been borrowed from
both local and non-local sources. All opinion is expressed with the
sincerity of young adults who are long-time residents of this community
and would like to see its resources better managed and protected for
the next generation also to enjoy.
Major proposals include: catch limits, run management, disposal of fish
waste, minimizing pollution, and additional maintenance and development
of recreational facilities.
Welcome to our home. Ninilchik is a tiny sea town of five hundred and
seventy-nine residents who thrive primarily on fishing and the tourism
industry. Ninilchik is located approximately one hundred and eighty-nine
miles south of Anchorage on the Sterling Highway.
The focus of this paper is the off-shore fisheries and the associated tourism. In planning to preserve the resources, handle today's problems, and keep them from arising in the future, we propose limits on fish catches, the rapid minimizing of pollution, disposal of fish waste, appropriate escapement numbers, and additional recreational facilities. Read on for details of our plans, our opinions and our thoughts for the future.
What is it that keeps the Cook Inlet salmon runs in such an extreme
cycle of boom then bust? Scientists have, for years, debated the causes
of the local fishermen's paradise and then the sudden dry outs. A new
study points the finger at climate change. (www.sfos.uaf.edu/)
To arrive at their conclusions, researchers from the University of
Alaska Fairbanks had to reconstruct salmon runs going back hundreds
of years, long before anyone kept records on such things. (www.sfos.uaf.edu/)
Doing that meant that biologists had to find some kind of "fingerprint" or "signature" left behind by these long-ago salmon runs. Turns out, when salmon die and decompose, they leave behind nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Researchers had only to measure the amount of the stable nitrogen isotope called N15 to determine the size of past salmon runs. Whoever the brainiacs were, who came up with this, ought to get an extra special pat on the back. What an ingenious discovery! (www.sfos.uaf.edu)
A UAF associate professor, Dr. Bruce Finney, has mentioned several times that salmon runs and climate are almost joined at the hip. According to Mr. Finney, his team has found that the five salmon records had similar patterns to the climate changes that they coincided with. That was consistent with the idea that some large-scale change in the climate of the ocean is driving the populations up and down in synchronization over decadal time scales. As the climate became warmer, salmon returns to the lakes became larger. The reverse was also true: Cold snaps triggered smaller salmon runs.
Now, how can this information be put to good use? The prospect of collecting salmon eggs and roe on the 'up' years and using it to fill the gap in the 'down' years is fairly new. Whether an exploration like this would prove to be financially sound is questionable.
In planning for the future, we cannot always accurately predict the weather. We can most definitely not be right all the time when forecasting the entire year's forecast but our meteorology instruments are extremely helpful. If we had a whisper of an idea, we would know whether or not the soon-to-be fertilized eggs that were saved for this specific purpose would be needed. In short, there would be a pretty good chance that there would be sustainable runs of fish each year.
Digging deeper into the fish issue, why are the number of fish per run going downhill? There are many opinions out there, all claiming different sources. Habitat degradation and large escapement numbers are two of the biggest problems. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
As of today, the Kenai River is one of the most popular sport-fishing spots in the state. Being the common destination of many fisherman, there has been much damage to the banks of this beautiful river by both foot traffic and wake from outboard motors. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
With habitat preservation in mind, making the Kenai's salmon fishery drift-only is going to be beneficial. When a drift-only regulation is passed, boats will be put in the river at a designated location, float the river with fishing lines in the water and then come out at another designated location. This process would be repeated several times making a big circle, although, in the ideal situation, it would take several hours to float from start to end point.
In designing this type of plan, one of the most pressing issues to consider is the land that has to be crossed to reach the river's edge for launch and removal of boats. It would be very worthwhile for a local landowner holding an appropriate parcel to charge a small fee for the use of his launch/removal site. This may appear unbusinessman-like to those who have fished the river for many years but the other option would be presenting the state with a plan to buy several parcels for this purpose. We would support, with our tax dollars, public launch/removal sites because in the long run, we feel it would benefit all fisherman, not just those drifting the river. Although ours is a positive opinion, other Alaskans may feel otherwise.
Increased wear-and-tear on banks is exactly what drift fishing the river going to prevent, it's extremely illogical to not put any thought into the planning of a launch/removal site. Ideally, some sort of ramp sloping into the river with a large parking lot a safe distance from the river. Depending on the popularity of the site, several ramps may be build. Because the less length of bank disturbed the better, one ramp per site is preferred.
For fisherman who prefer to fish from the bank, several boardwalks will be constructed. Keeping in mind that light should be allowed to penetrate the bank beneath, we will take on the task, including all funding.
The best way to get appropriate funds for this project is to expose the issue totally. If the public knows and understands what needs to be done, financial aid will be more rapidly found within grants and the state budget.
It's time to put the brakes on near-shore development. There is nothing that can be done about the people that just keep pouring in, but there can be well-attended regulations followed on where they can build homes. We understand that people love the 'river' atmosphere. You know, listening to the water, fishing in the moonlight, that sort of thing, but that doesn't mean that they need to build a house right on the bank.
We support the Kenai Peninsula Borough's protection ordinance 2000-08 passed to prevent property owners from developing land near the water's edge. The ordinance states that there will be no development within fifty feet of an anadromous stream without the granting of a permit. We plan to strictly enforce this ordinance and before issuing permits, do a thorough check of the landowner's blueprint. Ownership of a permit is crucial to a landowner who is planning to put in a boat launch facility. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
A property owner can not be forced to move their dwelling after building, they could at least have warning before the purchase of a parcel of land adjacent to a river's edge. Because residents could not be forced to move structures that are within the protected area, only new owners are following the ordinance. To most, this may not be equitable, but we've got to start somewhere.
Others may think that this issue is being looked into way too deeply. After all, what does the Kenai River have to do with the commercial fishing industry? Everything! Rivers such as the Kenai, Kasilof, Susitna and tributaries in between are the spawning grounds of the coho, chinook, sockeye, pink and chum salmon. Without a place to lay their eggs, not only would the salmon numbers drop dramatically but there would also be a disturbance in the delicate food web of our waters. Ninilchik is the area in focus but because the Kenai River is such a popular fishermen's destination and an important component in the vitality of marine life in the Cook Inlet, it was chosen as an example. (http://www.afjournal.com)
High escapement numbers are beginning to become a serious threat to the commercial fishing industry. Suitable escapement numbers vary from river to river. Last year, a proper margin of escapement on the Kenai would have been four-hundred to six-hundred thousand. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
On the Kenai River, it is recorded that up to one million fish traveled upstream to spawn. If you have even elementary math skills, you can see that almost two times the fish were allowed up the river than the grounds could handle. One million fish is outrageous! (McCombs, pers. comm.)
Double the fish means double the eggs means double the fish when they come back in four years, depending on the species, right? Wrong. Double the fish means that still, only as many fish that the river can handle will successfully hatch next spring. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
Before a female salmon lays her eggs, she digs a shallow hole in the gravel bottom of the river. She leaves her eggs to the male to fertilize and cover with gravel. Because of the mass quantity of female fish laying eggs at the same time, each one is unburying the eggs of another. Once the eggs have been disrupted from their safe hiding place, it is very likely that they will be eaten by another fish and it is almost assured that they will not survive. Because of this phenomenon, low return numbers have plagued the Kenai for several years. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
In creating a fifty year plan to keep the commercial fishing industry healthy, modification of Alaska Fish and Game's Advisory Board will be immediate. In the ideal situation, each party (sport and commercial fisherman) would be equally represented. Each group would have a contributing spokesperson from each region on the board. This way, each gear-type and geographical region would be equally represented.
An example of an unbalanced committee is currently a problem with the board. Three out of seven members are Kenai Peninsula-residing sport fish advocates. This means that about five percent of the annual salmon harvest is represented by approximately forty-three percent of the advisory board. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
Lately, we have become aware of political problems within the board. This is the main cause of the high escapement numbers in the Kenai and other popular rivers. Because of the financial gain involved, its easy to understand the swaying of government officials resulting in the huge escapement numbers. We do not, though, understand ethics present in this situation. An explanation to the public will take place promptly and the negative effects resulting from these individuals' actions will be exposed. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
In the future, all fishery monitoring will be performed by trained biologists. Why does the state employ them and then choose not to listen to their replication? These biologists will have most of the decision-making on their table, but they will also be obligated to hear and attend to the Advisory Board's questions, thoughts and suggestions.
As you can see, the cycle continues in a vicious circle. The more fish the Advisory Board chooses to let up the river, the more financial support sport fishing gets. The more money brought in, the more fish go up the river the next year. It's time the to break through the candy-coated version and make the public aware of what is really happening. When heard that an exceptionally high number of fish went up the river, it is assumed that there will also be high return rates. Ignorance is killing the industry.
Lately, there has been a lot of tension between Cook Inlet commercial and sport fisherman. Each is pointing a finger at the other saying that there is not enough fish for both groups. How so? If all of the above-stated facts were out in the open, there may not be so many problems. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
Obviously, if one million fish went through the weir on the Kenai when only about five-hundred thousand should have gone through then that's just half a million more fish that could have been caught by some lucky fishermen. We propose that, in the future, only five-hundred thousand fish be allowed to reach spawning grounds. As a result, return rates will skyrocket (within reasonable limit) and there will be fish for all those willing to cast a line. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
And willing to cast a line, there is plenty! In Ninilchik alone last year, there were two hundred and sixty registered fishing charters. In 1990, there were only sixty-five. As you can see, if we don't start using better management practices, the fishing industry will be totally depleted within the next fifty years! Several other thoughts on improving the health of the Cook Inlet include making the use of a four-stroke engine mandatory, proper disposal of fish waste, daily catch limits and increased regulation on those entering the charter field. (Evers, pers. comm.)
Although some skippers choose to ignore the fact that a two-stroke engine puts out as much as two times the pollution as a four-stroke, there are many out there who are environmentally conscious. (Chihuly, pers. comm.)
A proposal to make the use of four-stroke engines mandatory will be put into action as soon as possible. It has been proven that pollution kills many species of plankton and putting a dent in a lower section of the food chain is most definitely not an option. Without this delicate web, not only would the fish suffer, but we as humans might also be threatened.
The charter industry will be required to take kindly to this ruling and comply without difference. This is said considering the cost of replacing an engine because, growing up here in Ninilchik, we all have had experience in the charter profession. If a business owner chooses not to upgrade, there are so many negative effects that he will be pushed from the charter industry by his own free will.
The numbers prove an excellent point. A skipper has one boat and takes out, on average, six people per fishing trip. Each person's daily limit is reached when two halibut and one salmon have been landed. The potential daily catch is six salmon and twelve halibut while fishing from the first of May to the end of September. That's one-hundred and fifty-two fishing days per year. Now, that skipper takes six people every one of those one-hundred and fifty-two days, resulting in nine hundred and twelve salmon and one thousand eight hundred and twenty-four halibut with the potential to grace someone's dinner plate. Multiply by two hundred and sixty and the figures become astronomical! These values do not account for weather days or the salmon season, which brings the total down, but neither do they consider a skipper who makes two trips per day or lets his clients fill the skipper and deckhand's limit. As you can see, there is a whopping number of fish being taken from our oceans on a daily basis. (Evers, pers. comm.)
Things are beginning to fall into perspective aren't they? Not only can a charter operation not complain when they are asked to upgrade their engines (because they would be the ones suffering if there were no longer any fish) but they can also afford it. At one hundred and forty-five dollars per person, per trip, a four-stroke engine would be a minimal and reasonable investment.
Because of the tremendous amount of fish being taken from the waters each day, the future will include an adjustment in the numbers of fish taken from the Cook Inlet. The state should consider a limit based on a yearly catch for regular fisherman. Something such as two halibut and one salmon per day for up to ten days a year would be appropriate. This may not have a big impact at first, but it will solve the problem of charter captains and deckhands letting their clients fill their limits after the crew's first ten trips.
A creative way of doing his part to preserve the fishery that a local
charter operator has used for the past several years will really get
you thinking. It is common knowledge to most that the biggest halibut
out there are females. A recommendation that all halibut over 59 inches
(103 pounds on a standard halibut weight tape) be tossed back does exist,
but everyone wants bragging rights on those big guys! The particular
skipper that I was referring to has been known to give his clients their
fishing trip, free of charge, if they catch a halibut over an estimated
one hundred pounds and releases it. (Marsh, pers. comm. & www.iphc.washington.edu)
This type of limitation is a great idea. One large female left in the sea has the potential to produce almost four million offspring. If the skipper and his clientele had some sort of incentive to leave the biggies free, over fishing the halibut market will become a thing of the past. Not only would we be thinking of the future but we all agree that the bigger the fish is, the less quality meal it provides! (Alaska Sea Grant College Program pamphlet)
Another option would be instead of limiting the number of fish caught, limiting the number of commercial charter boats that go out. This may be a very popular plan with the locals because most of us feel that our resources are being used in selfish ways. Many commercial charter operations are run from the lower forty-eight. Our tiny town of 579 becomes a booming tourist town come May first; mostly on account of the great fishing. These people make their money on our waters in the summer, put their boats and gear in storage and take their new-found fortunes home with them. (Chihuly, pers. comm.)
If there were a limit on boats going out, there would have to be a
fair way to choose who would go and who would stay. Ruling with the
thoughts and experiences of a long-time skipper, if an entrepreneur
has been in business with an active vessel and has turned in a valid
log book to Alaska Fish and Game for the last two years, they would
be issued a permit. Permits will be good for one year only and their
renewal will take place if, once again, a log book has been received
by Fish and Game. Taking into consideration the type of engine on board
or the use crucifiers (you'll read about them down below) would also
be helpful. (http://www.iphc.washington.edu)
Many Ninilchik natives would like to simply say, if you aren't an Alaska resident, you can't charter here, but, realistically, that's not fair. The deciding who can be 'in' in the coming years will be by lottery. The numbers of those who are issued permits will fluctuate but right now, the appropriate number allowed to join the current fleet will be five per year.
Lately, according to a local guide, a disease known as 'chalkiness' has been observed within the salmon species. This disease causes the fish's skin to become whitish and washed-out in appearance. The finger is pointed at an apparatus used by some guides called a crucifier. (Chihuly, pers. comm.)
Crucifiers are machines used to remove hooks from the mouths and bodies of fish that are going to be returned to the ocean. Basically, the fish is run through the machine, the hook is ripped from the flesh and leaves an open wound. Why the twisting of a pair of plyers can't be used for a quick fix, is not understood. That way, a little more personal attention and consideration could be given to the fish, and it would not be so susceptible to infection. (Chihuly, pers. comm.)
In the future, all use of crucifiers will be banned. This shouldn't cause to much of a stir because it is not logical for a charter operator to use this machine anyway. Not only are the fish harmed, but the resources are being depleted. Charters who catch fish with chalkiness, as a result of using a crucifier, bring negative publicity on to themselves.
In considering the regulations for the future of fishing industry, we have to remember to be realistic and fair. The above ideas will not drastically reduce the fishing economy that our small town is built on. Tourism and fish marketing is a huge source of revenue so by putting our plans into action, we will be creating a more aware and experienced group of businesses that will thrive on hard work and ingenuity.
Remember the number of fish caught per day mentioned up above? What do you think happens to all those guts? Unfortunately, they don't give back to the environment all that they could. Currently, fish waste is dumped on the beach near Deep Creek river. Although many scavenging birds feast on the carcasses and innards, and let me tell you, it stinks to high heaven, the waste is only partially returned to strengthen the waters it came from. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
By building some sort of facility to grind the waste and dump it back into the ocean so that planktonic creatures can consume it is essential. By strengthening the lower layers of the food chain, there is sure to be a positive effect on the fish industry. The logical thing would be to build some sort of grinding plant on shore where fisherman just drop guts off. A small barge would take the ground waste, known as slurry, out and dump it. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
It is probable that the building cost for a site of this nature would run somewhere in the five-hundred thousand dollar range. A barge will need to be either purchased or employed and a crew will need to be present. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
Several situations have been considered. One of the most popular with us is simply leave guts at a central location, pay someone to grind them and then haul the slurry out and dump it. Another is giving fisherman access to a grinder and letting them take care of the duty themselves. That way, they are taking small amounts of slurry out daily each time that they make a guided trip.
There are several flaws in both plans. The start-up costs will appear extremely uneconomical to those who have simply dumped their waste on the beaches for the last several years. Fisherman are known as creatures of habit so going to the effort of grinding and dumping their own waste may be a big step not warmly taken. The biggest reason being that when they launch their boats, they are dealing with paying clients who expect to come home with impressive catches, not deal with the sight and scent of yesterday's guts.
Putting the money into a community grinding site with a barge or some sort of boat to dump the slurry is going to be the most fruitful solution. After start-up costs, fisherman will be expected to pay for the processing of their waste. With the owner of the guts paying a small fee for the services the facility provides, the place will be able to cover operating expenditures. Grants and other funding are available, so getting the site up and running will not be a problem. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
Remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill? For many Ninilchik residents, it was the worst day of their lives. Fish prices immediately went downhill, permits devalued immensely and fisherman could do nothing but watch as their livelihood slowly lost its vitality. While putting together a fifty-year plan for aquaculture protection, disasters such as oil spills must be taken into account.
Oil is the most publicized natural resources in Alaska. It earns the state a huge sum of revenue yearly. Protecting the environment while producing, transporting, refining and marketing fuel is a challenge that the industry must meet every day. There is a great risk in taking natural fuels from the earth. Problems arise with everything from drilling wells to storage to transporting it from place to place. There is no perfect solution to environmental concerns but we can offer and put into action a plan to preserve our planet, and particularly, our waters. The human race has forever worked hard in keeping these risks as minimal as possible and in the coming years, we are going to continue to keep our environment as pristine as possible, while still producing the oil that we need.
Education is the first step in preventing the problems that come with dealing with the processing of oil. Knowing the basic facts about oil, such as what it is, where it comes from and what dangers using it employs is essential for all those who deal with it in any way. Oil is a mixture of organic compounds containing two primary elements: carbon and hydrogen. Oil may flow like water or molasses and can be described as 'sweet' or 'sour' depending on the presence or absence of sulfur and other impurities. Degrees of impact of a spill varies with the amount spilled, type of toxins present and location of spill. (http://www.wsg.washington.edu)
The cumulative impact of repeated small oil spills can devastate an marine ecosystem. A few drops of oil or gas spilled during fueling of a boat can have dire consequences on marine waters and on the habitats that support marine life. These small spills may not look as if they will hurt anything at all, but they can and do. Eliminating them is an important step in a plan to keep the oceans healthy. (http://www.api.org/oilspills/)
Because the overwhelming majority of boats in our inlet are charter vessels, a mandatory check for fuel leaks is a must. By checking over a boat annually, many other small pollution problems may also be eliminated; exhaust leaks, for example. (Evers, pers. comm.)
Education is an area needing much emphasis in the charter industry. By realizing the direct effect of toxins released into the water, charter operations's attitude toward the environment is encouraged to be positive and the adoption of safe oil and gas handling procedures are encouraged. Recycling as an alternative to pollution-prone operations and correct disposal of contaminating waste will also be promoted.
Despite all human efforts going into spill prevention, accidents and human error is still going to occur. Preparedness is an important component in fighting for the cleanliness of the Cook Inlet.
In 1989, nearly eleven million gallons of oil spread over open water during a three day period of calm seas. Known as one of the most devastating environmental accidents in history, the Exxon Valdez spill spelled death for millions of marine animals in Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and all areas in between. (http://www.api.org/oilspills/)
If you consider the technology available, the most logical clean-up effort would consist of skimming the floating oil off the surface of the water. Unfortunately, none was removed this way because the response barge maintained by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was currently out of service and unavailable for use. (http://www.api.org/oilspills) This is just one of the many things that will be kept in mind when putting together a response plan for a shipping disaster. At no time, ever, in the future, will there not be a barge, escort vessels and a prepared clean-up crew on hand anytime that oil or other toxins are being shipped, especially by sea.
Having several escort vessels with a large shipping barge will be made mandatory. These vessels travel with barges while they travel through the inlet, prepared to assist in case of emergency such as a power shortage, loss of control or oil leak. Eleven years ago there was only one escort vessel with the infamous Exxon Valdez when it ran aground on the rocks within the Valdez Narrows. (B. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
Specially trained marine navigators will be piloting all ships carrying hazardous material. Never, will a captain be working alone or be allowed to consume alcoholic beverages or any other mind-altering drugs or stimulants.
Recently, congress has enacted legislation that states that all tankers in Prince William Sound be double-hulled by the year 2015. If the Exxon Valdez had been a tanker with a double-hulled structure, the amount of oil spilled is estimated to have been cut in half. (http://www.api.org/oilspills)
Eliminating toxic spills in the Cook Inlet in the future is so important because any marine ecosystem exposed can be totally demolished for the next several decades. The Cook Inlet is the main employer of the people of Ninilchik. If you aren't a charter operator, work for one, setnet or gillnet, build or maintain boats, or make money off the tourists who come here to fish, it is likely that a family member or someone else very close to you does. If anything should happen to the Cook Inlet waters off the coast of Ninilchik, the community's main source of income would be rapidly made extinct. (McCombs, pers. comm.)
Although we can not prevent all spills and disasters that are eventually going to happen when working with toxic chemicals, we can continue to improve our methods of clean up and prevention. Without this small town's waters, we would be nothing more than a tiny village in a dry river valley.
As the snow melts and the days become longer in Ninilchik, sport fisherman flock to our tiny town, creating a lucrative tourism market. Maintaining and improving the resources is essential to making and keeping Ninilchik a prevalent recreation destination.
While maintaining the present sites, several new campgrounds are in order. Several private land owners often voice negative opinions of the strangers who camp on their property. The improper treatment of private land is unacceptable. When we build more camping, picnic and recreation areas, we will be promoting the use of state land for tourism and solving the problem of campground overflow. (Aho, pers. comm.)
Before requesting funding for camping areas, much encouragement will be given to the public for the development of privately owned campgrounds. With new sites under private ownership, revenue will be generated and stay within the town. All economic gain will go to the landowner, not the state.
The need for more camping space in Ninilchik is a pressing issue. If private landowners choose not to convert their land, the state will need to have several sites picked out. Currently, a parcel of land three-tenths of a mile up Oil Well road is in question. This land is centrally located and would serve the purpose of camping area very well.
Facilities don't just build themselves. Grants will be sought out and after the grounds are completed, a parking or tent fee will be charged. By making camping areas cost effective, expenditures will be minimal.
With each new camping area, restrooms and a facility to dispose of trash will be included so that mis-use of the site is discouraged. Building sheltered picnic areas as an extra 'catch' to keep tourists from straying from designated camping areas will also be built. Novelty items such as these will take more funding but if each campground pays for itself, the state budget will cover the extra expenses.
A series of hiking and biking trails are in Ninilchik's future. These trails will help keep the tourism market lucrative while encouraging people to explore avenues not pertaining to fishing. These trails will double as cross-country ski routes and will help strike up a winter tourism market as well. We plan to build several informational kiosks along these trails as well. Traveling one of Ninilchik's trails will be both a scenic enterprise and an informative adventure.
The amount of Native-owned land near Ninilchik is numerous. Because funding could be limited to small recreational sites only, small trail easements will be purchased. The land will be enjoyed by all at a low cost.
The Russian Orthodox church, which has stood on the hill above Ninilchik Village since 1901, is one of the most popular and most photographed destinations in Alaska. The church itself has been well taken care of over the years but its time the church's grounds had a facelift. (http://www.kenaipeninsula.com/1_Ninilchik_Alaska.html)
The sign below the church is in desperate need of a paint job. Within the Ninilchik Village, this sign welcomes visitors and on it is written several facts about the town. This sign and the overgrown grave yard behind the church are a sorry salutation to tourists who come for the scenery.
Several local parties may be interested in these projects. Community service is great for resumes and college applications so 4-H clubs and Boys and Girl Scouts organizations may be willing to lend a hand. If not, the projects are inexpensive, will not take long, and are very worthy investments for the state to pursue.
While tending to the tourism industry, handicapped access must be remembered.
The stairs used by many traveling from Inlet View RV Park to the village have recently been reconstructed with features for the handicapped. Bathroom facilities will also need to be modified. Grants will easily be attained for this purpose.
A visitor's center that entertains guests with brief tours and helpful information is essential for the growth of tourism in Ninilchik. A centrally located parcel of land will be leased from the Ninilchik Fair Association for the site of the structure. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.) The land owned by the Fair Association will likely never be sold. One member of the board does say, though, that she thinks that an appropriate lease could be arranged if the state would like to fund the building of a small information center. This board member feels that the rest of the board would also support the idea. (S. Schollenberg, pers. comm.)
For the avid bird watcher, we plan to build a small boardwalk extending into the large marshland near Deep Creek river. Informational signs will dot this boardwalk for those less-experienced in viewing wildlife. Local Parks Service agents feel that the public needs to be knowledgeable and aware of the creatures occupying local marshlands and we strongly agree. Not only will birds be viewed, but moose and coyotes also. (Aho, pers. comm.)
Ninilchik's blossoming in the summer is amazing considering the great winter recreation activities the region possesses. The snowmachining in Caribou Hills is spectacular, hiking and bike trails make for cross-country skiing in the winter and there are several great snowboarding and sledding hills locally.
At Anderson Hill, a popular recreation destination, we are going to put in a small rope tow to assist in boosting the number of users. The tow can be used by those wishing to snowboard, sled and down-hill ski. Funds will be raised within the community and use of the new rope tow free of charge will be strongly publicized. By promoting the use of the lands in the winter, we will be creating a more lucrative tourism industry.
The delicate balance of tourism, fishing, and resident well-being is directly related. Each ties into the other and has either a positive or negative effect on the chain as a whole. To preserve the balance, the catching of sport fish will be limited, fish waste will be returned to nourish the ecosystem it came from, pollution prevention and response will be adequate, all fish activity will be monitored by trained biologists and more recreational sites will be constructed.
In summary, we plan adjust, adapt and arrange our natural resources by cooperative management, equity and the training needed to be a steward to the earth. The Ninilchik we have enjoyed will be the same, if not better, for the coming generations.
Aho, Jill- Natural Resources Technician; Association of Park Services, Cooper Landing, Alaska. 252-6131
Chihuly, Mike- local charter operator; P.O. Box 39294, Ninilchik, Alaska 99639. 567-3374
Evers, Tim- President, Ninilchik Charter Association; 137 Sterling Hwy, Ninilchik, Alaska 99639. 567-3518
Marsh, Larry- Fisheries Biologist; 43961 K-Beach Road Suite B, Soldotna, Alaska 99669. 262-2919
McCombs, John- local gillnetter; P.O. Box 39087, Ninilchik, Alaska 99639. 567-3334
Schollenberg, Butch- member of Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up crew; 25701 Sterling Hwy, Anchor Point, Alaska 99556. 567-3467
Schollenberg, Shirley- Rural Community and Development Board member; 25701 Sterling Hwy, Anchor Point, Alaska 99556. 567-3467
Alaska Fisherman's Journal- http://www.afjournal.com 11/29/00
Alaska Sea Grant College Program halibut facts pamphlet- University of Alaska, Fairbanks, P.O. Box 755040, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775
American Petroleum Institute- http://www.api.org/oilspills 12/6/00
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council- http://www.oilspill.state.ak.us/ 12/3/00
Halibut Charter Individual Fishing Quota Issues- http://www.iphc.washington.edu 11/27/00
International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited/effects of marine oil spills- http://www.itopf.com/effects.html 12/1/00
Kenai Peninsula Resource Network- http://www.kenaipeninsula.com/1_Ninilchik_Alaska.html 12/6/00
National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration- http://www.afsc.noaa.gov
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