Bootlegger Cove, Kachemak Bay

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Bootlegger Cove, Kachemak Bay

by | Feb 10, 2020

Bootlegger Cove, also known as Little Jakolof Cove, is the local name for a small shallow embayment on the southeastern shore of Kachemak Bay, about 12 miles (19 km) south of Homer and 7.6 miles (12 km) northwest of Seldovia, Alaska. The cove is surrounded by private land and lands belonging to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

In the years preceding statehood, the territory of Alaska had few resources to provide for the mentally ill or those with developmental disabilities, many of whom were sent to outside institutions. In 1956, Congress passed the Mental Health Trust Enabling Act that transferred the responsibility for providing mental health services from the federal government to the territory of Alaska and ultimately the state. To generate revenue, the legislation also created the Alaska Mental Health Trust, the only organization of its kind in the United States. Revenue-generating uses of Trust land include land leasing and sales, real estate investment and development, commercial timber sales, mineral exploration and production, coal, oil and gas exploration and development sand, gravel and rock sales and other general land uses.

An extension of Bootlegger Cove forms an isolated lagoon at low tides used to support an oyster farm. Currently in Alaska, 36 operators are producing primarily Pacific oysters in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, and Kachemak Bay. Their combined yield is about two million oysters with a sales value of $1.5 million from a mostly local customer base. The history of farming Pacific oysters in Alaska dates to the early 1900s. The Pacific oyster is not native to Alaska or the Pacific coast. It was first imported from Japan to Puget Sound in the early 1900s as a substitute for the declining populations of the Olympia oyster. Alaska began importing Pacific oysters in 1909 and oyster larvae were planted on intertidal beaches from Ketchikan to Kachemak Bay. Production peaked at 550 gallons in 1943, but remoteness and transportation issues caused the industry to collapse in 1967. Alaska oyster aquaculture restarted in the late 1970s using floating raft farms and lantern nets with oyster seed imported from shellfish hatcheries in Washington state to produce oysters for the live half-shell market. Today, the local restaurant market provides most of the product demand. Read more here and here. Explore more of Bootlegger Cove here:

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