September 15, 2011
Dear Kachemak Bay State Park and State Wilderness Park Citizensâ€™ Advisory Board members:
The purpose of this letter is to state the Alaska Quiet Right Coalitionâ€™s (AQRC) continuing support of the regulatory bans prohibiting personal watercraft use in the waters of the parks and in the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Chritical Habitat Areas. We believe the determination by both DNR and ADF & G that such use was incompatible with the values for which these lands and waters were legislatively designated was, and is, correct based on the adverse effects personal watercraft has on wildlife, including fish and birds, and wildlife habitat. AQRC participated in the original efforts byThe Kachemak Bay Coalition to achieve the bans and subsequent regulatory prohibitions and continues to oppose the entry of personal watercraft into the waters of Kachemak Bay.
AQRC is a non-profit organization with members and supporters from throughout Alaska. We believe natural sounds and natural quiet are resouces of our public lands (and waters) which deserve protection by managers. We are particularly concerned with the adverse effects the noise created by motorized recreationists has on the quiet recreationist. We believe that in most circumstances, multi-use of the same areas or trails does not work for the non-motorized recreationist and we advocate that separate areas and trails be set aside for non-motorized and motorized recreationists. Moreover, personal watercraft use in the same area as non-motorized recreationists, such as kayakers, can create safety hazards due to the wake.
While it well may be that new models of personal watercraft emit less pollution to the air and water and create less noise, this does not mean that such â€œthrillâ€ machines will be operated in a manner compatible to the values for which these lands and water were set aside by the legislature. The very nature of the machine is to create an exciting ride which, by bouncing through the waves, causes loud and uneven levels of noise as the the machine is operated at differing speeds. Moreover, the ability of the machine, whether old or new, to operate in very shallow water means it can enter areas, otherwise not disturbed by any watercraft orÂ noise, to the detriment of the wildlife existing in such places. Finally, of course, the obvious problem is that everyone seeking to use their jet ski in Kachemak Bay will not have the latest models of personal watercraft. We assume that advocates for lifting the ban mayÂ argue it could be lifted for new machines only. In view of the lack of enfocement rangers,AQRC believes it is out of the question to even consider such a proposal.
Finally, AQRC wishes to comment on the allegation that somehow prohibiting the use of personal watercraft in a particular area amounts to discrimination since the operator cannot access that particular area on the machine of her/his choice.Â The only â€œ discriminationâ€ is against the means by which access is sought; not against the individual who is free to access the area, but by different means.
Thank you for this opportunity to voice AQRCâ€™s continuing support of the current regulatory bans prohibiting the use of personal watercraft in this unique, beautiful and quiet area: world-renowned for its birding, its shorebird festival and its inclusion in the Westrern Hemisphere Shorebird Network.
Please provide this letter to all members of the parksâ€™ Citizensâ€™ Advisory Board.
Susan Olsen, President
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition
PO Box 202592
Anchorage, AK 99520