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NOAA Fisheries taking comments on Gulf Rationalization. What do you think?

The LegHead Report

legheadreport.jpg LegHead (ledj-hed) Report weekdays at 12:20 p.m.

Fish Radio with Laine Welch

 Weekdays at 12:20 p.m.

Galley Tables

Chiniak Fire 2015, Release No. 12
Kodiak, Alaska — Friday, August 28 — The shelter at the Kodiak Middle School was inactivated.
People in need of Red Cross services may contact Red Cross volunteers at (907) 942-5059.
The Kodiak emergency operations center is now supporting the State Division of Forestry crews who are on location in the Chiniak area.
We encourage you to continue to listen to KMXT for updated information and also watch for updates on the Kodiak Police Department Facebook page.  
Jun 24 2015
City Has Allowed Near Island Quarry Expansion for Five Years Without Permit
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
1.46 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

Overhead view of quarrying on Near Island from Kodiak Island Borough GIS online. 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
As quarrying continues on Near Island adjacent to St. Herman Harbor, a group of citizens have become concerned at the extent of land being lost, and have discovered the city has not had the right permits to allow the excavation that has been done over the past five years.

“That land is actually zoned conservation,” said Jill Wittenbrader, a local attorney who has circulated a petition asking the city to stop. “When the Near Island Comprehensive Plan came out, they went to the lengths to designate eagle nesting and trees in that specific area. But those trees have all been cut down and mined now.”

Wittenbrader discovered that the city had not obtained a conditional use permit to quarry into the conservation land, something Kodiak City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski admits was a mistake.

“We failed, the city failed to identify and then take that area of encroachment and get a conditional use permit from the borough at that time,” she said. “And we weren't aware of the problem until the public brought it up.”

Kniaziowski said the city will be filing for that conditional use permit to cover both the conservation land that has already been mined and that portion that has not yet been quarried. 

“It would be admitting the error that we made back in '09, and trying to, and getting, the Planning and Zoning Commission to agree to allow it to go back to where it was surveyed,” Kniaziowski said.

But Wittenbrader doesn't think granting a retroactive permit at this point is fair to others in the borough.

“It just seems a little bit insensitive and cavalier to me,” Wittenbrader said. “Because if I was doing that on my land or you were doing that on your land, it just seems like we would be held accountable. And so I just think that we should all be playing by the same rules.”

Kniaziowski said the city council will be discussing the quarry at its July 21st work session, but she doesn't think it would vote to halt excavation short of the boundary it approved in 2009.

“I can't imagine they'd want to stop and limit the economic development opportunity at the harbor, but I don't know,” Kniaziowski said. “We'll be talking about this in July.”

In the meantime, Wittenbrader said she's prepared to file suit over the encroachment on behalf of the ad hoc group of petitioners.

“The borough code allows individuals to go ahead and file their own zoning violation complain in civil court,” Wittenbrader said. “And so I wanted to discuss that with any people who want to discuss that and whether or not we want to take that next step.”

Wittenbrader has also suggested a land swap that would have the city re-designate industrial-zoned land on Near Island as conservation, but said that idea has not yet been discussed with the city. 
There are currently two contractors excavating rock from Near Island, Brechan Enterprises and B&R Fish. 
Jun 24 2015
Invasive Species Awareness Week: Hawkweed Edition
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
kmxt_hawkweed.jpgOrange hawkweed behind the KMXT office. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

If you’re a gardener or just a fan of plants, you’re probably familiar with some of Kodiak’s weeds.

Sunday marked the beginning of Invasive Species Awareness week in Alaska and the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation Distric t’s Project Coordinator, Blythe Brown, says we planted seeds for a lot of those species ourselves. It’s a bit of a Trojan horse situation.

Orange hawkweed was brought into Kodiak probably in the mid-60s as a garden plant,” says Brown. “Wildflower seed mixes. Wildflower seed mixes are often the route of introduction for invasive species. They are not well-regulated, so even though it says wildflower seed mix, it doesn’t mean that they’re true native wildflowers.”

Kari Millstein is on the District’s summer field crew and says these plants dig in their roots and settle in for the long-run.

“They take over the land,” she says. “They spread out so much and take up so much space that they create a mono-culture and nothing else can survive on that land. So, you’ll just see fields covered with hawkweed and nothing else can grow there anymore, so they push out the native species, which is what we don’t want.”

But it’s not a hopeless battle.

“Something we can do to kind of help contain the hawkweed by spreading at least by seed is to pull the heads off before they go to seed and, when you do that, you gotta make sure not to just throw them on the ground,” says Millstein. “You have to put them in a bag and they will go to seed even if they’re separated from the plant, so you gotta burn them or do something to them.”

You can learn more about invasive species and how to stop them from encroaching on your flower beds at alaskainvasives.org .

Jun 23 2015
Councilman to Pitch Pedestrian Fishing Dock Idea
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
councilman_charles_davidson.jpgCouncilman Charles Davidson. Via the Kodiak City Council website
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

For those who can’t leave the city by land or sea for their fishing needs, one Kodiak City councilmember has a solution. Councilman Charles Davidson wants to answer a need in the community and says he’ll present his idea at the council’s work session tonight.

“The present ordinances for the city of Kodiak prohibit any fishing from any city dock and I’ve had several older people and young people approach me about ‘Where can we fish if we don’t access to a boat or a car?’ and I thought, well, maybe this is a time to consider putting in an actual fishing dock somewhere,” says Davidson.

People would be able to go out on that dock and legally fish in town. Davidson says this is the first time the council will hear of the concept and there are a lot of details to work out.

“As to cost, I haven’t the slightest idea. That’s what some of this could do is if we could find a location and then get a price estimate,” says Davidson. “We’ve got the pier I come in probably next year, so maybe by that time we would have some idea of what the cost would be and where it could go.”

Davidson says they could consult Fish and Game for ideas about possible locations.

He asks people to stop by the work session tonight and voice their opinions. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m in the public library’s multi-purpose room.  
Jun 23 2015
KEA Seeks to Divert More Water Into Terror Lake
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
The proposed diversion locations which would redirect water into Terror Lake.  KEA image
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak Electric Association is embarking on its next step to ensure renewable energy remains the dominant form of power on the island into the future by directing more water into Terror Lake, which feeds three hydro-power turbines.
1.87 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

While the capacity of the three turbines – 33-megawatts – isn't changing, the amount of water available to run them could be, according to KEA's Jennifer Richcreek:

“What we are changing is the amount of energy available to the project, and that energy is in the form of water. There's only so much water that can fit in that lake, and there's only so much snowmelt and rain that enters into that lake,” she said. “And so what we're looking to do is then create a new source of  more water that can come into the lake. An additional portion of the upper alpine area of the watershed that can supply some more water, some more energy, to the hydro plant so that those turbines can keep spinning with more water flowing through them.”

KEA wants to do that by diverting a tributary that drains to Hidden Basin at the head of Ugak Bay. It would actually be the fourth watershed diversion into Terror Lake. The first three were installed when the Terror Lake project was built.

“And these are three diversions that are on the Kizuyak side of the watershed. And so we already are very familiar with operating these kind of diversion,” Richcreek said. “And again, these are just taking portions of the upper areas of the watershed, capturing that snowmelt and that rain and funneling that into a tunnel so that it can flow through the powerhouse and make power.”

The project has an $80-million price tag, but the cost savings of diesel fuel and diesel generator maintenance is projected to exceed $450-million over the course of a 30-year loan to build the new diversions.

Richcreek says with the extra water flowing into Terror Lake, estimated to be about 9.7-billion gallons, the water turbines can go from running at 46-percent of their potential over the course of a year, to 56 percent.

“If those turbines were running full tilt boogie 24-hours-7, 365 days a year, then if that was happening, we'd call that 100 percent plant capacity factor, that would be 296-million kilowatt hours,” she said. “But now, with the3 water currently available to the project, we;'re currently generating 135-million kWh. So if you do 135 divided by 296, that brings it to 46 percent capacity factor. What are we really generating versus to what it's theoretically possible to generate.”

Richcreek says salmon habitat has been extensively studied in the watershed, and taking some of the Upper Hidden Basin runoff should not be an issues for spawning salmon further downstream.

“That's the science that we found. We presented that in our reports. We want this to be an engaged consultation with all of the agencies and all the stakeholders, and so if there's are any concerns, that's where we're entering into this scoping meeting and public consultation so that we can all make sure we're all in agreement that there are no negative impacts.”

Kodiak Electric currently has an application before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct the two small dams to divert new water into Terror Lake. There will be a meeting on July 21st with governmental agencies at 9 a.m., and with the public at 7 p.m., though the earlier meeting is open to the public as well. They will both be held in the KANA-Koniag Building on Near Island. 

After that there will be a 90-day public comment period and if all goes well, Richcreek envisions breaking ground in 2019. 
Jun 22 2015
Jackson's Park Faces Structural Challenges
Monday, 22 June 2015
jackson_sign.jpgSign forJackson's Mobile Home Park. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

One concern for residents as the Jackson’s Mobile Home Park closure approaches is what to do with their trailers. According to one resident who works in construction and does remodeling, people can’t just pick up and leave. Robert Mee says age has taken a toll on many of the structures.

“I think that they have too much additions, too much rust underneath, the skirtings – most of them – are rotten and the skirting is holding up the walls,” says Mee. “They try to jack these things up, the walls are gonna fall ‘cause the skirting’s gonna be gone, there’s no support any longer.”

He says his own home is fifty years old, and says moving trailers like his would be extremely expensive.

“These trailers are only worth 10 to 15,000 dollars. It’s gonna cost 10 to 15 to 20,000 dollars to get hook-ups and moving and tearing things apart and replumbing and, try to move them, things are going to crack," says Mee. "You got sheet rock and stuff inside of them. I don’t think they’re really moveable.”

Laurie Taylor is Mee’s neighbor and says she’s been at Jackson’s for seven years. She says she paid off her trailer two years ago and now she has concerns about moving it if she chooses to stay in Kodiak.

“I’m kinda scared that my place, like he said, the walls will fold in when I take the siding off. I mean, in the inside I’ve got it looking pretty good, but that wall’s falling off. It’s not attached all the way around the corner,” says Taylor. “And this green one over here was actually seen moved in here not so long ago – he tried to move, he was all jacked up ready to go. And apparently his place started to fold.”

Owners who can’t move their homes need take precautions if they choose to dispose of their trailers. One of the new requirements for the landfill’s acceptance of mobile homes is testing that the debris is clear of asbestos.

At last week’s regular meeting, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly discussed the rule. Engineering and Facilities Director, Robert Tucker, says the actual testing is not that expensive.

“Last I did it, it was 25 or 30 dollars for a bulk sample to have it tested under – they have to do it under a certain microscope to check for asbestos. It’s not super expensive to have that test done to find out whether it is or isn’t,” says Tucker. “The problem is if it comes back positive - removing it, then you have to hire someone who’s certified to remove it and that can get expensive.”

In response to concern over the extra expense for Jackson’s Park residents who already feel the strain of the closure, Assemblywoman Carol Austerman pointed out that the testing falls within any homeowner’s responsibility. And she says she hopes no one will burn their trailers to get rid of them.

“It is an obligation that you take on when you purchase a home and whether you’re purchasing a mobile home or whether you’re purchasing a brick and mortar home, you still take on that obligation, and it’s a responsibility to make sure you’re not endangering other people,” says Austerman.

Tucker pointed out that the only person who can legally burn a trailer is the property owner, and he believes residents will not go that far. The assembly agreed to move on from the topic and to return to it at a later meeting.  
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