Friday, July 31, 2009

NOAA Proposal to Close West Side of San Juan to Kayakers

In the below information please understand that KAYAKS are included in the no-go zone!

Please make a public comment to NOAA.
NOAA states that public comments can have a major effect on the decisions made in this process. There is a limited time period of 90 Day for comment. You do not have to be a resident to make a comment. Please comment now.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recently released a proposal on Vessel Regulation in the presence Killer Whales in the San Juan Island region. In the proposal they have set a closure zone that would prohibit most vessels (power, human power or sail) from entering the area.

Exception Vessels will include Treaty Vessels engaged in commercial fishing, research vessels, government vessels, cargo and rescue vessels and private land owners with beach property in the closure zone.

The proposed regulations would prohibit vessels from entering a no-go zone along the west side of San Juan Island. The area would extend seaward from the mean high water line to a line approximating 1⁄2 mile (800 m) offshore, from Eagle Point to Mitchell Point, and include an area totaling approximately 6.2 square miles.

Click above map for larger view.

Much of the information cited in the Proposal as scientific justification for the closure to kayaks has, in my opinion, little scientific relevance to the Southwest Orca population. Creating a closure that would not only decrease the amount of people visiting San Juan Island for the purpose of personal kayak trips but would also have a significant impact on the commercial kayak companies who have limited public use beaches for operating tours, is unjustified.

Economically speaking, many San Juan Islanders who make this our only place of residence, rely in some way on the tourist populous that visits San Juan Island. Eliminating kayaking on the west side of San Juan Island could have far reaching effects on the economy of the island.

The following information was obtained though the cited publication:

Economic Development Overview of San Juan County

R Civille, K McKenzie, I District, WA … -
Page 1. 1 Economic Development Overview of San Juan County December, 2000

*The study concluded that the County economy is driven primarily by tourism.

*In 1997, it was $19,548 and ranked thirty-fifth among
Washington’s 39 counties. The statewide average was $30,755.” The report
shows that the county has much of its employment base in the tourism-related
services and trade sectors.

Kayak Tour Companies provide a service that brings people from all over the world to kayak here. Limiting areas of access would have an impact on the number of people traveling to San Juan Island. Given the number of people that arrive here each year to go kayaking, there would be a trickledown effect in the economic loss as less people come to kayak. This would have an effect on various businesses such as: Restaurants, Hotels and B & B's, Retail Shops, and Camp Grounds. Tax revenue derived from tourist would drop and have an accumulated effect on local service where tax money is used for the County.

Kayak Tour Companies work hard to ensure all guides are trained to understand operations and guidelines while the Killer Whales are in the area. Guides double as Naturalist and pass great stewardship practices to guest on each tour. Guides provide education to guest that have travel from various locations local and non-local. As an educator their role is to pass along proper information to guest that will increase awareness for issues that face all wildlife in the San Juan's.

Many have made a proposal to have a permit system set up and have an education system set up so that guides can be certified to lead tours in Critical Habitat Areas. All of the ideas NOAA states is not cost effective and there insufficient research on the success of such programs.

To view the NOAA Proposal please follow the link below.

Take notice of the following pages"
Pg. 37679 Vessels Subject to Proposed Rule
Pg. 37680 Outline of the Proposed No-Go Zone on San Juan Islands West Side
Pg. 37683 Alternatives. Notice NOAA has take the most drastic of the alternatives.

Please understand that the Southwest Killer Whale population is listed as endangered and in part of the reason for the designation was due to the display of being culturally unique. In the concept of culture I feel it would be most appropriate to use scientific research that was done with the Southwest Killer Whale population. Most of the cited research pertaining to kayaks was done on different species in different geographical locations. Give the idea of culture I would thing that cultural tolerances would be different in different cultures, not to mention different species.

Therefore creating a closure with the current scientific evidence could be seen as negligent. The concept of the closure could be seen as an experiment in its self. But at the expense of a small community that relies heavily on tourism. Nothing but clear and concise science with definitive proof should ever be considered when dealing with the lively hoods of those affected by unfounded scientific proposed regulations.

Please make a public comment to NOAA.
NOAA states that public comments can have a major effect on the decisions made in this process. There is a limited time period of 90 Day for comment. You do not have to be a resident to make a comment. So please comment now.

Thank you for reading
Jason Gunter

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kayaking With Friends

I took a couple of days off to hang out with some friends and doing some kayaking. Last Friday we headed down to South Beach and launched in the fog. We set up a shuttle so we could paddle one way to San Juan Co Park. The water was calm and sea birds and gulls were everywhere. As we made out way along the shore enjoying clear water and a wonderful low tide, there were lots of Harbor Seals. It was fun to see so many of them messing about the kelp beds. As we headed north the fog started to lift to blue skies above. There were five of us on the paddle and most of them I had just met. It is always fun being on the water with new friends.

We stopped for a quick bite on a little pocket beach and then hit the water for some more fun. We were getting a nice push from the current as we headed north but soon we lost the push. Shifting gears and paddling a bit harder out pace slowed. Which was not big deal to slow down. We really were in no big rush to get off the water.

We finally made it to San Juan Co Park and the hard part started, loading gear. It was a bit of a juggle but we all ended up at home eventually. I know I was pretty tired and hit the hay early.

Guinness Update:
Things have been rocky for ole G Dog. I have had him on steroids since he has been home from the vet. I tried to reduce his dosage and he started to get worse. I consulted a close friend of mine who is a Vet and we both decided to go back with the higher dosage. Since then things have been a bit better. It is amazing how much things have changed for Guinness and for me to. I can see that our relationship has changed a bit. I know I have to use more patience and he tries to do things he could do before and just cannot do and ends up needing lots of help. Plus he never seems to want to say put! So he walks around slipping and falling on the hardwood floors. But we are working it out. I have a week left of meds for him. After that we will have to see how he does. If the swelling or whatever is going on in his back is reduced and he can walk without meds all will be well. If he cannot walk, well then I have tough decisions to make.

I hope everyone out there had a great weekend.

Here are a few pics.

Ah. San Juan Island Sunsets!

This deer was sleeping on the beach we had lunch.

Just enjoying good company.

Wait a minute, what is the punch for? LOL

Live music outside. The Elephant Revival. Good stuff!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Busy Times

Sorry for not getting around to posting. I have been busy with work and some personal life issues. Things are starting to even out a bit.

So the season has been busy, a bit down compared to previous seasons, but we are doing ok. Guides are busy but not over worked as we seemed to be in the past. So given that, spirits are still high as we approach August.

I was out on a multi day with a great family and on my return I was hit with bad news all at once. First on the plate was Tayrn (Guide) freaking out because one of our trailers had a metal failure on the frame of the trailer while driving down the road. No one was hurt and that we just luck. But some kayaks were damaged and the trailer is a loss. So operations are going on with the normal loads of guest. It just takes a bit more logistical detail. We are awaiting a response from the company that custom built the trailer. Sandy and good friend who is a master of fiberglass has been working hard to get the damaged kayaks back on the water. She amazes me with the amount of skills she has. She has all but two kayaks already for use to use! WOW!

The next set of bad news was that my dog Guinness was at the vet. A couple days before I left for my trip Guinness slipped on the stairs on the way to my room. It was a minor slip but just enough to cause a limp. The day I was leaving on my tour he seemed to be having a hard time getting up. I asked my friend Robin to check in on him and if she felt he needed to go to the vet, just take him. Things seemed to be fine as it just seemed he had pulled a muscle. But on my return day from my tour, Robin was most concerned as it seemed he had lost the use of his rear legs. She rushed him to the vet (Thank you so much).

I got to land around 330pm and had to get some work done. I tried to get some stuff done, but the other guides told me to leave that they would take care of the rest. I meet up with Robin since I had no idea what vet Guinness was located. When we got to the vet they told me he was paralyzed in his rear. If he did not regain mobility in 48 hours he probably would not walk again and that he could not empty his bladder on his own. So a decision would have to be made on putting him down. I have had Guinness since he was a tiny little puppy. He as been though a lot with me in my life. He is for sure a valued family member. Just thinking of having to decide to put him down was a bit much for me and as I went to the kennel to see him, well I did not do a graceful job of holding back my emotions.

He stayed the night at the vet and I was planning on bringing him home the next day. If he had to be put down I would set the date for Friday and we would have a party with Guinness's friends so everyone could say bye. But we went back to the vet in the morning and Guinness was able to stand. I would not say walking was something he was doing but he was moving. That afternoon I took him home. He needs assistance getting down the stair to go out. I can deal with that.

Today he is doing a bit better. Stairs are still a problem and I help him with that. But outside he stumbles about with a bit more mobility than before. I doubt we will share times on the trail jogging anymore but right now I am happy that he is home and seems to be doing a bit better. He will have to learn to operate with his new condition but he adapts well.

Thanks to everyone who helped me out with my tour clean up. Thank you Robin for being there for G Dog.

For those that live here, feel free to stop by and say hi to Guinness. He loves it when people come by.