Letters to the editor
Thank You Bay Club
Kachemak-Selo and Razdolna schools, grades K-5, are so grateful to the Bay Club, Kellie Blue, the staff and all of the patrons. We just completed a week of swim and rock climbing lessons. It was wonderfu.
This has become an annual event that our students look forward to enthusiastically. While it is fun for the students, it is also, potentially, a lifesaving activity. Most of our families are fishing families, so it is vital for our students to know how to swim. Thanks to the Bay Club and its instructors, they now have that opportunity.
We are especially grateful to the patrons for sharing their pool and locker room. Your flexibility and gracious patience has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for making room for our students.
Kachemak-Selo and Razdolna Schools
Forest arboreteum a treasure
I am a great fan of Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s “In Our Own Backyard” gardening columns. I love everything about them — the tone, the wit and the advice, which occasionally sinks in.
In this week’s column she talked about trees, and made reference to Dave Brann — who is, I agree, “the Hero of Homer,” or at least one of them. Dave’s gifts to this community are many, and include the arboretum in the Demonstration Forest off the Rogers Loop Homestead trailhead. I am a frequent visitor.
It is part of my “loop” hike/ski/snowshoe (depending on the season). The side trail to the arboretum begins a short way down from the Rogers Loop trailhead and then continues past the arboretum to intersect with the main trail near the outhouses. The arboretum itself is a not-very-large fenced-in area that protects 20 or so “exotic” and not-so-exotic trees from the foraging moose. I’m not sure what all is in there — the ID tags are largely missing or too water-damaged to read — but for sure some mountain ash and some interesting pines and spruce. Also lots of native cottonwood, trees prone to moose browsing but which thrive in the protection of the fence.
About that fence — it is aging. Even in the few years I’ve lived in Homer (14 years; how did that happen?), a couple of times I have visited the arboretum and found portions of the fence down, plenty enough to let in moose who have been feasting on the gourmet menu. So I email Dave, and by my next visit Dave and friends (Robert, Steve and others) have milled out and installed very long 4-by-4s and patched the fence back together.
It’s a never-ending project, and frankly I don’t know who’s going to pick up the slack when Dave and friends age out. Or I age out, for that matter. Sometimes I think that I’m the only person who still visits the arboretum on a regular basis, carefully pushing open the rickety gates and making sure I lock them when I leave. I suspect that the arboretum will join the other historical structures on the Homestead Trail. I’m OK with that. Dave probably is, too.
Before that happens, though, make a visit. Just be sure to close the gates when you leave.
Look to ancient Greece to understand President Trump
I am very confused about what is going on in our government. We seem to have a president who is dead set on dismantling the office he holds. Since the election, I have asked myself almost daily, “What kinda guy would say and do such things?” Then a name popped into my head, as if in answer to my question. It is a name from long, long ago, from the pages of ancient history. The name is Alcibiades, and I want to share a story about him in hopes that it could help others who might be as confused as I am by current affairs in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
The Peloponnesian War was fought between the ancient Greek city-states of Sparta and Athens. It was a protracted affair, spanning a full generation, from 431 BC to 404 BC. During a hard-won period of peace between the two powers (415 BC) a new player came on the scene. His name is Alcibiades. He was rich, young, athletic, handsome, smart, and in the end, irresistible. With grandiose ideas, he re-kindled the war. Then he turned traitor — not once, but twice. In the end, he led Athens, the world’s first known democracy, to its destruction.
Here is his story (leaving out all of the salacious details). Alcibiades (450-404BC) was a politician from the democratic state of Athens. He was born into a wealthy family in decline. He spent his youth as a playboy. Then he got into power. Big Time. He loved duking it out with the many enemies he made in the public sphere. When he encountered opposition to his will, he went for the throat, no holds barred. He was the talk of the town.
Then things changed. In the course of an attempt to undermine the ambitions of rivals, he was charged with a crime (sacrilege). He was convicted and sentenced to death, but escaped. He fled, defecting to Sparta, Athens’ economic competitor, political rival and military enemy throughout the Peloponnesian War. There, with the aid of inside knowledge, he succeeded in helping Sparta to bring down the Athenian democracy. But he couldn’t keep his hands off the Spartan King’s wife, so he made some pretty big enemies and had to flee. He fled to the archenemy of Greece, Persia. In Sardis he climbed the ladder of geopolitical power. He joined with Persia in its imperial project to subdue the known world, including of course all of Greece, his homeland. Now, fearing Sparta more than Athens, Alcibiades brokered a deal, promising Persian support for Athens’ struggle against Sparta. The Athenians bought it, and he returned to Athens under the protection of an oligarchy his political allies had crafted from the rubble of democracy. Alcibiades assumed the post of supreme commander and led Athens to defeat. So he fled again, to what is today Turkey, and took refuge with the Persian governor there. But he could not escape his legacy of deception and the Spartans tracked him down, and with the help of his host, assassinated him in his home in exile.
There is no moral to this story. History isn’t really that way. But this tale does give reason for pause. Had Alcibiades not escaped from Athens and the death penalty that hung over him, things would have been quite different indeed.
If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating bit of history, have a look at Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War.
‘No Action’ best alternative for Pebble Mine
I am writing this comment in response to the Scope of Impacts on the proposed Pebble Mine. I oppose the building of a large scale mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. This letter will be the first of several I intend to write based upon the already extensive research that demonstrates that the building, operating and maintaining of the mine would pose significant and irreversible damage to one of the greatest wild salmon fisheries left in the world. The No Action alternative is the alternative that I support which is no mine.
According to the July 2014 Proposed Determination of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Pursuant to Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that given the extent of streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds both overlying the Pebble deposit and within the adjacent watersheds, excavation of a massive mine pit and construction of large tailings impoundments and waste rock piles would result in dredged or fill material into these waters. This discharge would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources. Water withdrawal and capture, storage, treatment and release of wastewater associated with the mine would significantly (and permanently) impair the fish habitat functions of other streams, wetlands, and aquatic resources. All of these losses would be irreversible.
After three years of study, two rounds of public comment, independent, external peer review, EPA released its Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska (Bristol Bay Assessment) in January 2014. According to this assessment, the infrastructure necessary to mine the Pebble deposit jeopardizes the long-term health and sustainability of the Bristol Bay ecosystems.
The Bristol Bay watershed is unique in that it provides habitat for 29 species of fishes, more than 190 birds, and more than 40 terrestrial mammals. The watershed supports production of all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America: sockeye, coho, Chinook, chum and pink.
The Bristol Bay watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. It supports approximately 46 percent of the average global abundance of wild sockeye salmon. A permanent loss of this fishery from the proposed Pebble Mine is a loss that is unacceptable to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on this region for its cultural, economic and ecological significance.
I urge you to deny issuing the Permit for the construction of the Pebble Mine due to the adverse effects on fishery areas.
I attended the scoping meeting on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Homer, Alaska. In my opinion, the reason for withholding open public comment due to the anticipation of a large number of people is reprehensible in an open and democratic society. The proposed mine will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, destroy the last remaining wild salmon fishery and negatively impact the community of Homer. The citizens of Homer and the surrounding communities will be impacted by the proposed Pebble Mine. A public comment hearing that listens to the people who live here is the least the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can do to make this an open and fair process.
As mentioned earlier, this will be the first of several letters I plan on writing in opposition to Pebble Mine.
Sage Stanish a Seldovia star
I would like to call attention to a fine graduating senior from Susan B. English school in Seldovia. His name is Sage Stanish. Sage is graduating with a top grade-point average. Since Seldovia did not have a basketball team this year, he travelled and played with the Nikolaevsk Warriors while maintaining this GPA. The best accomplishment for Sage is his acceptance and award of a full scholarship with William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. The college told his parents that his acceptance was based on his GPA and the exceptional letter he wrote with his application. We will miss Sage in town, but he will be home in summer. Go Sage!
DeStig says thanks
Thank you to all of the staff and board of South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services for helping us put on our first ever DeStig Cinema Series. We would also like to thank the Homer Theatre and The Homer Foundation for making this inaugural event a success.
I would like to thank the staff members that opened up about overcoming their own obstacles. Also the athletes from the Special Olympics that spoke about their successes and achievements.
But mostly I would like to thank the community and the almost 400 people that came out and watched our four movies. The willingness to participate in the wellness of the community and the willingness to listen to the comments of others is perhaps one of the healthiest things an individual can do.
That and having some brains or T-shirts or fidget spinners thrown at you.
Thank you and we hope to see you next year.
South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services
A Facebook login using a real name is required for commenting. Respectful and constructive comments are welcomed. Abusers will be blocked and reported to Facebook.