The Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area just became a little bit smaller. Governor Sean Parnell signed a bill into law Tuesday that excludes the Port and Harbor of Homer from the habitat area.
Senator Peter Micciche and Homer Representative Paul Seaton say the bill had their support. Seaton says the previous boundaries of the critical habitat area, which included parts of the Homer harbor, were most likely the result of a mistake. When officials with the state Department of Natural Resources first drew up the boundaries, Seaton says they used already-established section lines, which had the unintended consequence of including the outer part of the harbor, including the Deepwater Dock.
Seaton says the new map will keep established industrial areas on the east side of the Homer Spit, from the Deepwater Dock north to the barge basin, out of the critical habitat area.
In a news release Wednesday, Parnell said the law is about “recognizing the balance between jobs and environmental protection.”
Parnell pointed out that Homer is the only year-round ice free, deep water port in Cook Inlet. The Homer harbor has been designated as a Port of Refuge by the U.S. Coast Guard and maintains the assets required to improve marine safety, respond to emergencies at sea and to enhance environmental protection.
The Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area was created in 1976. Its management plan forbids all oil exploration vessels from operating in the bay.