Members of the public interested in commenting on a proposal to raise the horsepower limit for boats operating on the Kenai River are invited to offer comments at the Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) Advisory Board's special public meeting on Sept. 28.
The meeting, to be held jointly by the advisory board and the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, will give the public an opportunity to comment on the recommendations proposed by the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board to create new state regulations raising the limit on engine size from 35 horsepower to 50 horsepower including other changes in state regulations affecting boating on the popular river, said Jack Sinclair, superintendent of parks in the Kenai area.
KRSMA has enforced a 35 horsepower restriction on boats operating on the waters of the Kenai River below Skilak Lake since 1987. At its April meeting, the advisory board members made a decision to address the issue that was described in the Kenai River Special Management Area Comprehensive Plan that calls for the KRSMA Board to determine if changes to the horsepower limit are appropriate. The factors to be considered included: 1.) Ease of enforcement, 2.) Ability to minimize boat wakes and, 3.) The convenience to boaters.
"This is simply housekeeping in that we're making a practical and sensible amendment to the horsepower limit which has really been a good regulation for the river… a regulation that can be better," said KRSMA Board member Jeff King. "We will need the cooperation of our local boat dealers; under no means will a return to any detuning be allowed. We also need a stronger boating education program and continued efforts to get boaters to run the boats responsibly and in the middle of the river allowing the wakes to dissipate."
In addition to the higher horsepower limit, the board's resolution also recommends the division should implement new regulations for boats operating the river to:
- require all engines in excess of 35 horsepower to comply with 2006 EPA emission requirements for outboard motors
- require all 50 horsepower engines to be factory-stamped as 50 horsepower engines
- prohibit operation of larger engines detuned to 50 horsepower
- prohibit operation of boats larger than 21 feet long, though consideration should be given to longer hulls until 2010
- require the Division of Parks to conduct an aggressive program to educate all Kenai River boaters on the best practices for minimizing user conflicts and protecting habitat
The Sept. 28 meeting will specifically address the proposed new regulations, and will allow an opportunity for the public to comment. That meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Kenai Borough Assembly Chambers, at 144 N. Binkley St.
Online comments can be entered here.
The division will also welcome written public comments until Oct. 12, 2006. Comments may be sent to the Division of Parks at P.O. Box 1247, Soldotna, AK 99669 or by email at Jack_Sinclair@dnr.state.ak.us
For more information please call Sinclair at 262-5581, ext 1.
2007 Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) Proposed Regulation Change