Next Katmai Service Providers Meeting, scheduled for

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018.

Meeting at 9:00 a.m. at

Millennium Alaskan Hotel

4800 Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK 99517

Agenda to be announced




  • If you are a CUA holder in Katmai National Park, we would like to see you at the meeting! It is crucial that we have a strong organization to collectively take on these issues and ensure our voice and concerns are heard.
  • If there is a particular item you would like to see addressed at the next Katmai Service Providers meeting, please e-mail your comments and suggestions to info@katmaipark.org
  • New Election of Officers & Board of Directors. We are as always interested in active participation from our members. If you would like to serve as an officer or a director, please attend the meeting and volunteer, or if you know a member you think would be good, please nominate them to the position. We need your support to be effectitive.

  • Emergency Response Questionnaire Link
  • We are currently compiling another list of equipment & expertise to make an emergency response plan in the event of potential emergencies in Katmai Park. We want to keep this list as current as possible, so Please click here to be included.
  • 2017 Annual Meeting

    Thanks to all who attended the Katmai Service Providers annual meeting Tuesday, February 10th, 2017 in Anchorage.

    We Elected:

    New President: Brian Kraft of Alaska Sportsman Lodge
    New Vice-President: Chaad McBride of Katmai Land
    And New Board Member: Van Hartley of Branch River Air

    Membership strong. Many old dues paid. Eight new members prior to meeting. Two new members at meeting. Total membership: 50.

    Compendium changes: not many changes this year. Tripod restriction on the platforms at Brooks. KSP members in favor of the restriction but would like to see closure dates mirror the trail closures at Brooks which are June 15-August 15.

    New Park stipulations: there were a lot of new stipulations last year and we wanted to ask the new superintendent if he wanted to make new stipulations this year. The superintendent has the authority to place anything in the compendium, which was formed to implement rules in an emergency. Lengthy discussion ensued on some of the stipulations. There are some stipulations we would like to see removed such as the human waste stipulation and the monthly reporting stipulation. The monthly reporting is not a problem for everyone but impossible for some operators who do not have internet access until the end of the season. Another problem with reporting is that some clients are being double and tripled reported as per person fees are being doubled and triple paid.

    Lionel Maye of Grand Frisson discussed the problem of the human waste removal stipulation pointing out that it is impractical. A better solution is to bury human waste. He added that the chemicals used to process waste are bad for the environment. Additionally, waste is a bear attractant, which is a safety issue.

    Progress on restrictions on more heavily used areas of the Park:
    At KSP meeting last year we proposed the Park service implement a site-specific protocol at Moraine/Cross Wind Lake such as the one that exists at Geographic Harbor. Overall the Geographic protocol works well the only issue has been natural erosion. We have requested of the new park superintendent the new protocol be pursued.

    Bear Viewing Guide Certification:
    Last spring a vote was taken to see if KSP should develop a training program with test and if there should be a certification. Members voted in favor of both. Members agreed that it is a huge undertaking and a sub committee was formed to review benefits, liability, cost, and content. Volunteering for the sub committee were: Brian Kraft, Rolan Ruoss, Mary Norman, Dave Oberg, Chaad McBride, Dave Bachrach and Jo Murphy. Members felt it would be best to keep the course simple. There was discussion of whether participants should be KSP members. It was decided the best approach would be a moral code or code of conduct. It was agreed the best practices document would be part of the basis of the course. Some KSP members remembered superintendent Diane Chung suggesting participants passing such a course may have some latitude with the 50 yard rule. Since the February meeting it has been decided to implement the certification in three stages over three years. A goal was established to create a code of conduct to set a standard for bear viewing guides within 60 days as the first stage of the bear viewing guide certification. At this time the code of conduct will be a performance document for guides. In order to qualify to sign off on completion of the code, participants would need to be a KSP member. Current KSP members would not be required to sign off on the code of conduct, the program will be completely voluntary. This would not be a certification KSP would encourage the park to require for all guides at this time, but could be used as a basis for certification in the future should the park service at some point require guide certification. After completion the document would be e-mailed to KSP members for approval.

    The purpose of the code of conduct would be to create consistency among operators, as well as a high standard of safety, and an enhancement of customer enjoyment. We feel it is important that all operators understand that our actions have an impact on bears. In addition, signing off on the code of conduct would be a marketing tool. There is a hope that commercial operators participating in the program would earn more trust from the Park Service.

    In addition, we would like to create a handout for bear viewing etiquette which we can carry in the field and offer to both private individuals with limited knowledge and other CUA’s who may not be as experienced. This handout would be refined to a small document with key points that are easy to read. The intent of the handout would be to foster cooperation among guides as well as the unguided public in an effort to reduce stress on bears. It would be an initiative to help self police activity at bear viewing locations.

    Since the program will be a “Good Samaritan” effort and completely voluntary, the liability of providing the Code of Conduct should be minimal.

    For the first stage of the project the costs will be low. We can use our existing web site until such a time we might provide a true certification process. Providing such a certification will be a much more in-depth process which participants feel may take 2 or 3 years to complete. As a basis for the Code we will be reviewing two documents at our next meeting. They are “Best Practices for Bear Viewing on the West Side of Cook Inlet and the Katmai Coast” created by a joint effort of ADF&G and the National Park Service which was a process involving a large amount of public comment, and “Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia’s Best Practices Guidelines”.

    New Park superintendent Mark Sturm joined us. He has been working for the Park service since 2002 on the East Coast, and in Arizona and Colorado primarily in natural resources. Prior to that time he was a private sector forestry consultant for 6 years.

    Our new president, Brian Kraft, asked for some clarification on Park policy regarding human waste management. Does it need to be removed from the field? Does the policy apply equally to private trips and all CUAs? Superintendant Strum will look into it but he believes that all waste is required to be removed from the field. Mark then talked about the government hiring freeze and how it affected Katmai staff. There is a new chief of interpretation: Cathy Bell. And a new chief ranger: Jason Lux. A district ranger was also hired at Brooks, which is a permanent full time position. The hiring freeze is holding up the positions of pilot, wildlife biologist, maintenance/equipment operator and administrator assistant. Brenda Coleman will be retiring in April and Lisa Fox has left the regional office. Kelly Chang will be our contact for concessions. We can expect the paper/permit process to be slow until the freeze is lifted.

    There will be a visitor use research project underway on the coast and Lake Clark this summer. This study is being done in anticipation of developing a Back Country Management Plan which will be a multiyear planning process. The research will focus on high use bear viewing locations and will be in partnership with a university. It will also be focusing on the quality of visitor experience. Rolan Ruoss asked how they would be selecting the survey staff. Will they have field or Alaska experience with bears? The concern is that they may interpret their short observations in a different and possibly inaccurate way than observers with more years of field experience with bears. Superintendant Sturm assured us that they will be asking that the contractor be professional from a science point of view and he will keep our concerns in mind. Rolan suggested that our collective commercial experience is available and Mark assured us that we will have ample opportunity for input on the study results. Dave Bachrach asked if the visitor surveys from three years ago were going to be used. Mark was aware of the surveys but not sure where the final report is, but said they would use it as well as any other resources available.

    Brian Kraft raised the topic of Crosswind Lake being identified by the Park as needing some new, possibly more restrictive management process. Mark said he will review the current situation and consider if the current policies are working. He also indicated that he wanted to keep things as they are for his first year and then look at possible changes after that time is up. The monthly reporting requirement and the difficulty of making the monthly report was brought up. Sonny Peterson asked if it could made voluntary for the operators that are remote and too busy to make a monthly report. Mark said he would look into it. He stated that there was some value to having monthly reporting but he understood the shortness of the season also made it difficult for operators.

    Rolan Ruoss explained the issue of state tidelands vs national Park service management authority (Geographic Harbor) and how it impacts us. And who, in fact, has authority over the tidelands. He asked if he could get an official opinion from the federal side so we could have some idea if we will be risking a violation for operating below the high tide that the Park ranger might think is prohibited. Mark said he will look into it.

    Mark intends to get out to the field to see things in person once or twice this season and asked us to be on the alert for invasive plants. Invasive plants were one of his former specialties and he wants to be proactive.

    Mark also reminded us if there is any accident in the Park, the first contact should be with the Park service and under no circumstance should the equipment involved be removed before contact is made.

    Park service staff left the meeting and discussion continued briefly about the human waste issue.

    Van Hartley raised the issue of the Park requiring multiple CUA’s to pay user fees for the clients that are utilizing multiple CUA’s on a single day. Van and Chris Klosterman confirmed that Tom Betts confirmed to them that each CUA that serves a client that day is required to pay a use fee, even if there are multiple payments on the client that day. Dave Bachrach says we should press the Park on this issue and get them to justify this multiple charge policy.

    Dave Bachrach brought up the issue of Lake and Penn Borough charging operators taxes for client days.

    John from Katmai Land stated that ATIA executive director, Sarah Leonard, is proposing levying a 1% tax on visitor industry to fund their budget. The proposal may be found online.

    Dr Sam Snyder with Trout Unlimited spoke on the Pebble Mine issue:
    With the Trump administration it is hard to know how the EPA will participate in Pebble permitting. Pebble still has some major permitting and planning hurdles that will be very expensive and they will need to attract a major funding partner. In 2010 over 80% of Bristol Bay tribes asked the EPA to intervene on their behalf. 98% of Bristol Bay residents who commented on EPA’s 204C opposed the mine. They achieved a restriction on the permit to protect the watershed. A 2014 statewide initiative passed by 65% majority of Alaska voters to block Pebble Mine. Pebble filed a series of three lawsuits against the EPA. The first was dismissed, another alleging EPA improperly withheld documents has been resolved, and the EPA and Pebble have stayed the case and are seeking settlement on the third. The next status update is expected in March 2017. At the state level Pebble filed an application to renew their misc land use permits to continue storing exploratory material on state owned land in Bristol Bay. After hearing from 1000 Alaskans the State of Alaska delayed a decision until March 2017.

    In addition, Pebble still needs to attract a major investor to provide funding of $200-$300 million to secure the Federal Clean Water Act permit, NEPA requirements and dozens of state permits. Getting through the permitting process will take at least 4 years. Permit processing will require multiple state and national comment periods. Pebble must also be approved by a vote in the state legislature.

    Sam said the fight is back on. Trout Unlimited has ramped up their efforts. The effort inside the state is very important. The governor’s office is being pressured by both sides of the fight. The Walker administration appears to be on the right side of the issue. We do not know yet who the new EPA Region 10 administrator will be.

    People are encouraged to help by staying informed on Trout Unlimited’s website www.tu.org and Facebook page; making a donation; talking to our legislators; getting your friends involved and writing a letter to the editor (Trout Unlimited will be happy to help.)

    Facts from Trout Unlimited:
    -Over 40 million sockeye salmon returned to the rivers of Bristol Bay for the last three summers
    -For thousands of years, the waters have supported regional Alaska Native subsistence cultures that still thrive today
    -The salmon in Bristol Bay sustain 14,000 full and part time jobs and $1.5 billion a year economy
    -Over 50% of the world’s wild sockeye salmon are from Bristol Bay. If you eat “Wild Alaska Salmon” anywhere in the U.S. there is a good chance it is from Bristol Bay
    -Northern Dynasty Minerals is currently the sole investor in the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is a junior Canadian company that has never operated a mine before.



    Previous topics of discussion were


  • In the Katmai National Park Superintendents Compendium there are some significant changes regarding camping restrictions at Moraine/Funnel Creek. Most KSP members supported the camping restriction, and Sonny Peterson suggested a site specific protocol might be useful for this confluence area. Overall KSP supports site specific protocols for bear viewing but not for sport fishing.

    There are also changes in the Compendium for the protocol site at Geographic Harbor to be adjusted annually to accommodate changes with the beach caused by the river. It was also suggested by the Park Service the area be marked with a sign. KSP members support enlarging the area to encompass the whole area on the North side of the river, thus eliminating the need for an annual review. The sign idea was not supported.

    Management changes at Hallo bay include a "No Entry" for Nursery Rock in the back meadow. Another problem recognized by both Park Staff and KSP members is crowding in the sedge meadows. A portion of our next meeting will be dedicated to discussing how we can reduce conflicts with users and stress on bears because of increased use at Hallo Bay. The Park Service has recieved complaints od viewers displacing bears and monopolizing areas. Any of us who have been using Hallo for years can see the increase in human activity is having an effect on the bears.

    The Park Service believe a human waste problem exists at Hallo Bay, Swikshak Bay, Geographic Harbor and Crosswind Lake.

    There was discussion on the Brooks River Guide Program. Because of conflicts last year all Bear Viewers must do the Orientation Class, anyone with a fishing pole is considered a sport fisherman who may be covered under the program.

    A new CUA Stipulation is being considered that Operators must provide and clients must read a Bear & Aviation brochure.

    The Park Service is requesting the FAA provide guidelines for airplane use at Hallo Bay. They want common frequency formalization.

    There was a discussion on Bear Viewing Certification. The Park Service is considering requiring an on-line test as a requirement for guides. They would like to see a guide certification in place. KSP President Sonny Peterson is looking into insurance requirements and legal issues if KSP was to form a certification. KSP member John Rogers proposed the 50 yard rule be eliminated. He suggests the rue is antiquated and current viewing guides have no need for the rule. Superintendant Diane Chung responded that she would not consider eliminating the 50 yard rule until the was a guide certification in place.
  • KSP's Emergency Response Survey was discussed. We all recognize the best First Responders are our fellow commercial operators on our standard operating frequencies. The information we are compiling can be useful to the Coast Guard, State Troopers, National Park Service, and individual Operators in their training programs.
  • It was pointed out several times at the meeting that KSP is a place for operators to meet, discuss issues of common interest, and to resolve potential conflicts among ourselves before going to Park Management. When dealing with difficult issues we can be more constructive and effective as an organized voice
  • In the past several years KSP has developed a positive working relationship with Katmai Park management. We can build on this good start by increasing the involvement of our current members and by attracting new membership. To this end we have changed the associate membership. Associates will now be voting members, still do not have to be IBP holders, and the cost for this class of membership is now $100.00 annually.

  • The Pebble Mine was discussed. Attending members felt as a group we should state our opposition to destroying watersheds. One of the reasons KSP was started was for resource protection. We would like to do this in a positive way. There is no doubt the leech pond will sterilize the area. Members felt compensation for loss of revenue for traditional business's in the area needs to be discussed from the beginning. If you want more information on the pebble mine, check out www.bristolbayalliance.com Brian Kraft is very informed on this issue. His e-mail address is bkraft@alaskasportsmanslodge.com
  • Brian gave us an update on the Pebble Mine issue. He's been working with Trout Unlimited, local lodges, and Bristol Bay communities to inform the public about the potential risks to the fisheries from the proposed mine development, and asks everyone to consider writing letters to the EPA and calling legislators. Nellie Williams from Trout Unlimited also attended our meeting - her email below lists resources and a sample letter. Please take time to read the material and write letters if you are concerned.
  • Nelli Williams of Trout Unlimited
    Thanks again for the invite to the KSP annual meeting. It was nice to get face time with folks again….seems like many are, for the most part interested in helping. I was glad to see we got seven new signees to the Sportsmen’s EPA letter. I thought there would be a couple things that might be of interest (as follow up) for the KSP members that were (or were not) at the meeting.
    1. The TNC Risk Assessment SummaryT
    2. The Sportsmen’s Letter to the EPA. We currently have 66 AK guiding operations, lodges and other businesses signed on. If anyone else wants to sign on they can email me their Name/Title, Business, City/RiverSample letter (for talking points on letters to EPA/Begich/Murkowski) 
    3. Sample letter (for talking points on letters to EPA/Begich/Murkowski)
    4. If anyone wants to receive monthly sportsmen updates on Pebble again have them send me their Name and Email and we’ll get them on the list.
    Email:nwilliams@tu.org

    TNC Risk Assessment Summary (download PDF)
    Bristol Bay Lisa Jackson (download .doc)
    SampleSportgroup (download .doc)

All major issues will be voted on by the general membership.

Please send your vote via email at info@katamipark.org or attend the next meeting.

To request a copy of the minutes of the last KSP meeting, please e-mail your request to info@katmaipark.org

An Organization dedicated to:

• Resource Protection through stewardship.
• Promoting public access to Katmai National Park.
• Provide conduit for communication between the Katmai Service Providers   and government agencies.
• Partcicipating in planning future development of Park use.
• Enhancing Katmai National Park recreational activities for personal   enjoyment.
• Promoting safety and education.
• Foster cooperation among users.

 

Membership dues:

• General Membership (IBP holders, voting) $100 annually.
• Supporting Membership (non-voting)        $  50 annually
.


Katmai Service Providers, Incorporated
P.O. Box 2502• Kodiak• Alaska • 99615
Email: info@katmaipark.org