The Homer City Council joined Kodiak, Cordova and other Alaska communities this week when it passed a resolution urging the U.S. Navy to change training exercises currently held in the Gulf of Alaska after dozens testified that the training could impact marine mammals and fish in the region.
The resolution, postponed at a previous meeting, asked the Navy to hold its training exercises in the fall, not in the summer during the main migration period for the region’s fish and marine mammals. It also requested that the Navy move the training to an area further offshore, out of the prime fishing grounds in the Gulf of Alaska.
Few things say Homer like a walk along Bishop’s Beach at low tide, but not if you walk past drug deals going down, step in dog poo, on a rusty nail or glass from a party campfire, or get chased by an aggressive dog or sprayed with sand by “spinning brodies.”
Those were just some of the issues a dedicated group tried to solve as it tackled how to guide the future use of Homer’s beaches. While some rules already exist about where to drive and not drive, as well as keeping dogs under control and cleaning up after yourself, those rules aren’t enforced and by-and-large aren’t complied with, group members and citizens reported. In lieu of a small army of police to enforce rules 24 hours a day, the only solution may be to restrict access to Bishop’s Beach and other areas with boulders and a gate, the advisory commission recommended.
Memories of Homer’s homesteaders and pioneers grace a few street names and buildings around town, yet a large number of them quietly helped shape life on Kachemak Bay in ways that may not be recorded. The theme of the Fourth of July parade aims to honor them, “Pioneer Times: A Salute to Our Heritage.”
The theme attracted a lot of attention and sent volunteers to work contacting as many pioneers as they could think of, said Homer Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center/Events Coordinator Jan Knutson.
Homer fire officials are warning that while fireworks and flares are always illegal and dangerous, celebrating with sparks this Fourth of July is a particularly bad idea because of the high fire danger on the Kenai Peninsula.
While recent days have been cloudy and a little precipitation has fallen, it is not enough yet for fire officials to relax. While vegetation is wetter, areas under the forest canopy are still very dry and fire danger remains high.
Though confined to a smaller burn area, the Card Street Fire stands at 25 percent contained as of Tuesday morning and continues to impact recreation users of the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, prompting no-fire warnings for the Homer area as well.
The Skilak Lake and the Swanson River Recreation areas are closed to hiking, boating and fishing until further notice, refuge officials caution. The Upper Skilak Lake Boat Launch Ramp remains open but people are cautioned to avoid using it unless necessary, said Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Manager Andy Loranger.
Traffic congestion around the library, post office and bank on Heath Street may get relief if a route is approved to gravel a road from Grubstake to Lake Street.
The Homer Advisory Planning Commission held a public hearing on Wednesday night to look at two possibilities: A link between Heath and Lake streets through an extension of Grubstake Avenue. The other plan linked Heath to Lake Street via Bonanza Street.
The difference meant either acquiring land from Homer Electric Association or land for sale on the old Waddell homestead, where a collection of tourist cabins serve summer visitors.
A brown bear reportedly killed a dog in the Misty Ridge area off Diamond Ridge Road last week, and area biologists are urging caution when dealing with wildlife and dog relations, especially when moose and bears are active.
Jeff Selinger, Kenai area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said while reports of bears killing dogs are not an everyday occurrence, they aren’t unheard of, either.
As summer solstice soars by, and gardens on the Southern Peninsula are starting to get rolling and with that up-and-coming abundance, there is an opportunity to share the bounty with some of the community’s less fortunate.
Diana Jeska, board president of the Homer Food Pantry, said fresh vegetables are sometimes hard to come by for the 100-or-so families that depend on the food pantry each week. While local grocery stores donate vegetables that may have passed their prime, lettuce and other greens don’t last very long. Homer Farmers’ Market growers often donate their excess, but this time of year, that doesn’t amount to very much, either.
The stately new Harbormaster’s Office at the Homer Port and Harbor illustrates political patience and tying not just a few frayed ends.
“To most people, it seemed like this building went up overnight, maybe even like magic,” said Harbor Master Bryan Hawkins at the building’s grand opening celebration Thursday. Construction crews completed the $2.3 million building in early May. Harbor staff moved in May 16, ahead of schedule.
“I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t magic that constructed this building, and simply wishing didn’t make it happen either. What made this much needed improvement move from the City’s capital improvement list to completion was just good old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves hard work,” Hawkins told a gathering at the grand opening.
A rapid-fire presentation Monday afternoon at the Homer City Council did little to calm the concerns of dozens of residents who turned out to discuss and object to the U.S. Military’s plans to train in the Gulf of Alaska starting this week.
The U.S. Navy and Air Force will be conducting training exercises, which started this week, in an effort to improve communication and techniques, but residents, especially those with a stake in the fishing industry, have expressed concerns that the sonar to be used and munitions to be detonated will have a negative impact on the fish and marine mammals in the region. The U.S. Navy has denied any substantial impact will occur from the training exercise, dubbed Northern Edge 2015, which will occur 24 nautical miles south of the shoreline of the Kenai Peninsula over the course of 11 days. Three Navy destroyers, a submarine and several contracted vessels as well as some 200 aircraft and 6,000 U.S. military personnel will be involved.