Opinion: Keep jet skis out of Kachemak Bay

By repealing the jet ski ban, Dunleavy is playing into the hands of special interest groups.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy takes away from coastal communities, while missing the fact that he is creating the need for expensive marine law enforcement.

We already have found out the hard way that the governor has abandoned coastal communities who rely on state ferry service. His severe cuts to schools hurt all Alaskan communities, and his latest attack on Kachemak Bay, one of Alaska’s richest, and most vulnerable marine habitats, is highly irresponsible. By repealing the ban on jet skis, which has been part of the Critical Habitat Management Plan for 20 years, Dunleavy is playing into the hands of small special interest groups, while disregarding the protection of prolific wildlife, diverse habitat and many different user groups that rely on the protection of Kachemak Bay.

It is ultimately the governor’s responsibility to save the State from huge costs and reputation blemishes, which he can do by simply keeping the jet ski ban in place for Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area. For someone who brutally cuts much needed services from his people, this move to repeal the ban is a shortsighted ‘good old boy’ club action. If the governor does not intend to budget for a Marine Law Enforcement Division, which all coastal states except for Alaska have in place, he might not want to open this can of worms.

Jet skis currently have all other marine waters in Alaska with no regulation cost, but if the state allows these thrill craft in Kachemak Bay’s highly protected critical habitat area, there will have to be oversight and restriction enforcement of these high-speed thrill craft that are, “designed for the adrenaline junkies” (their words, not mine).

Before the ban was put in place, I personally experienced numerous wildlife disturbances and dangerous close hits by jet skis. Regular complaints to the authorities about reckless jet ski operators from many people ultimately led to their ban in the Kachemak Bay critical habitat area.

Let’s keep it that way.

Rick Harness,

Homer


• Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.