October 21, 2016
The purpose of this email is to express AQRC’s scoping comments on the proposed revision to the management plan for KB & Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas. We understand that review of the regulatory ban on jetskis in the CHA areas is not part of this planning effort.
The Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC), a state-wide non-profit organization, considers natural sounds and natural quiet as resources of our public lands (and waters) that deserve the same type of protection as clean air and clean water. We advocate for separate areas and trails to enable the non-motorized user to enjoy quiet recreation.
While, as indicated above, we recognize that the jetski ban is not currently part of this planning effort, AQRC wants to be on record with ADF & G in case the scope of the planning effort is subsequently changed. AQRC was an active supporter of the jetski ban when originally proposed and takes this opportunity to reiterate our support for that ban. We argued then, and now, that the ban does not restrict public access but only one means of motorized access. It is not discrimination against an individual; merely against a means of transportation. And, most importantly, we continue to argue that jetskis use is incompatible with the statutory purposes for which the CHAs were created. Accordingly, ADF & G may not permit their use in these two Critical Habitat Areas or, we suggest, in any CHA within the state. We believe the ban on jet skis has not only enhanced the habitat for wildlife and helped to increase the wildlife populations, but has served to help create Homer’s reputation as a place of quiet natural beauty.
Thank you for this opportunity to offer scoping comments.
Brian Okonek, President
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition