- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - The city manager in Kenai will be able to create no-wake zones for the harbor during the crowded dipnet season.

A new ordinance was passed last week, giving the city manager the discretion to regulate boat speed, the Peninsula Clarion reported (https://is.gd/3rZLpl). The measure noted it was for the necessity of public safety and the protection of private property.

It was sponsored by Kenai City Council members Bob Molloy and Brian Gabriel.

Molloy said residents have expressed concerns about both boat wakes in high tide during the peak fishery season and damaged property from the wakes.

“People that use our harbor were concerned with 400-600 small vessels in a two-mile stretch of river with no regulation on speed with boats zipping up and down,” he said. “Add in the big commercial vessels and it creates lots of dangerous conditions.”

Besides safety issues, Molloy said boat wakes during high tide can damage property and create riverbank erosion.

“At Homer’s harbor, they have a built in rock wall and a no wake zone that people are used to,” he said. “Here we have a river mouth with no way to control your speed. We have heard the public’s message and have all seen the problems down there for ourselves.”

The ordinance gives the city manager the power to create temporary or permanent no-wake zones.

Gabriel, who lives near the mouth of the Kenai River, said he has seen boats used in the popular fishery creating dangerous conditions. People pay more attention to catching fish than boating safety, he said.

“When the tide comes up to a certain level and reaches the vegetative line of the banks, the boat wakes create erosion issues,” he said. “Times where no wake zone apply would be during high tides until the tide falls back below the line.”

The Coast Guard will regulate speeds and ensure safe boating conditions during the July 10-31 fishery, he said.

The city will also install signs at the boat launch and on buoys reminding boaters to slow down to 5 mph in no-wake zones during high tide.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com


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