Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kevin Monagle's 3 Memorial Tributes

SEAS members.

We lost a great one when we lost Kevin Monagle, the Juneau Area Regional Management Biologist.

There are 3 major memorials we are working on in Kevin's memory.  SEAS members, along with incoming Pacific Salmon Commission Alternate Commissioner and United Southeast Gillnetters Association (of which Bill Thomas is not a member) President Bill Auger, have graciously pitched in to assist with these memorials for us to be assisted in our grieving these past weeks and the future months and years.  Bill Auger has assisted in the first 2 memorials.  We have not asked for his assistance in #3 for reasons that will become obvious as you read this:

1.  A room at the Alaska Fishermen's Building in memory of Kevin.  Kevin's desk stuff, assorted pictures and memorabilia will be on permanent display.

2.  A tower at the Eaglecrest Ski Area will be on permanent display in memory of Kevin

It is described  IN LOVING MEMORY OF KEVIN MONAGLE with the ADFG logo attached.

3.  Here is the tough one.  And you can only help if you live in House District 34, which is Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Sitka, Criag, Klawock, Metlakatla, Haines, Pelican, Port Armstrong, Yakutat.

Kevin Monagle had been threatened by Bill Thomas with his job and the ADFG budget over his management of the Chatham Strait fishery to such an extent that there was a standing request that Bill Thomas not be allowed to attend his memorial service.

SEAS is doing everything in our power to assist those who would help us rid the legislature of such self-centered bullying and unethical activity that some have asserted borders on illegal acts while in office.  After all, these were not assertions made by a non-financial participant.  Bill Thomas has a 1/3 of a million dollar gillnet operation and he cajoled, bullied and threatened Kevin Monagle while Kevin held the job at ADFG.  His conflict of interest is so great that if he were in the oil industry, this guy would likely be in jail right now.

A vote against Bill Thomas is a vote for ethical treatment of ADFG public servants and certainly a vote for Kevin Monagle

Following is the Eulogy that SEAS Executive Director spoke at Kevin's funeral service in September.


Kevin Monagle Eulogy

Hello, I'm Bob Thorstenson and I'm here to talk about Kevin Monagle's relationship to  business and economics .  And a bit of my personal experience of an all-too-brief decade that I was honored and blessed to spend time with Kevin.  I've tried to come up with a way to describe how I felt about Kevin's greatest attributes and all I can sum it up with is exceptional.  He was talented, loving towards his fellow man, extraordinarily considerate of others, tolerant of the fools he had to deal with (us fishermen), extremely intelligent and knowledgable and he was patient to a fault.

We commercial fishermen have a unique business plan in relation to the riparian environment and marine ecosystem here in the Tongass. I believe our business plan depends on 2 things.  God........................... and the men and women in ADFG blue.  And not always in that order.  I believe that Kevin is working that out right now.  He always gave God.. or Nature if you will... the first spot in this order of fisheries management.  I believe right now Kevin's been doing all of the listening patiently these past 5 days...   And then he'll  professionally give his view, perhaps with a sophisticated powerpoint   and then let God have the wrapup.

Unfortunately my uncle Eric McDowell beat Kevin to the finish line of his life's journey by a month.  But I'll do my best to do a McDowell Group-style synopsis on the business and economics of Kevin's career.   Had Kevin not been such an incredibly humble man, most of you would know more about his profound relationship and impact on  the Southeast Alaska economy. Past, present and future.

Here's the numbers. 

2011.  After managing the Juneau region for 8 seasons, Kevin managed Juneau's largest harvest and return of pink salmon in recorded history.  The value of the salmon caught by the seine, troll and gillnet fleets in Kevin's region was worth well over  $100 million to the commercial fishermen directly and about a quarter billion dollars wholesale.  In other words Kevin was the CEO of the largest economic engine in Southeast Alaska last year.   Throughout his career as the Area Management Biologist for the Juneau region, Kevin managed close to a billion and a half dollars in wholesale economic output of fisheries resources in his region. 

Of course, while Kevin operated with incredible leadership instincts and talents, he would be embarrassed at being called the CEO of the northend.  He was a team player.  He never, ever stood taller than the incredible management team he worked on or the people whom he worked for.  He shared his successes but took full responsibility for any shortcomings.  Both his and God's.  The Juneau region has always been suspect to the cold Taku winds and bitter overwintering on certain years.  And while we mostly give God the credit for the harsh winters that often wipe out the salmon returns, I can't help but think that Kevin has to share some of the responsibility for at least hoping for, if not praying for some of the great skiing winters we've had this past decade at Eaglecrest.

One of the only times I can recall the seine fleet questioning Kevin's management was in 2010. 
2010 was the alltime record for Seymour Canal pink salmon. Parts of Seymour Canal hadn't been fished since 1956.

 So these pinks were teasing the Augusta crowd  with quite a jump show and then they'd sneak around Retreat and Gardner and just show up at Pybus, Gambier and throughout lower and upper Seymour Canal.  Call after call Kevin fielded, but he was relentless in his insistence that the Chatham, Lynn Canal, Taku and Tenakee systems weren't participating in this abundance.

He was 100% right.  So after the season when we met in Petersburg for the Task Force meeting, Kevin got up for his presentation and put up a large map of Icy Strait and Chatham for his season wrapup. 

Suddenly, up on the powerpoint, multiple jumps began popping up on the screen.  I believe there were even audible splashes.  And they were limited to the area right near Pt Augusta.  After a few seconds of wonderment and awe by the 50-60 commercial fishermen, seafood processors and ADFG staff in the room, Kevin explained that these were the jumps that he'd been getting calls about all summer and they were so prevalent in this location that they'd now made it onto the NOAA nautical chart for the area.  It was classic Kevin.  His eyes were dancing and his lips pursed soasnotto completely call us out as the fools we had been that summer. 

Kevin Monagle was an amazing man.  He was a man of incredible integrity, honesty and purity of heart.  He was a positive force and had a  work ethic that is rarely matched in public service.  That's right, we often forget that ADFG employees are public servants.  Even though he was the CEO of the northend, he was hardly the financial beneficiary of that service.  We were.  And we still are the beneficiaries of his exceptional management talents for the benefit of current and future generations of the residents of this great 'salmon forest' that Kevin loved so much and managed with exceptional precision.

After the  Federal Kanalku hearings last spring I ran into Kevin at the top of the Ptarmigan Chair at Eaglecrest and I gave him the biggest hug.  The stress of those hearings were taking a toll on both of us.   I'm sure he was a bit taken aback by the public display of affection but these weren't too many folks watching at the time.  

So we had lunch in June at Chinook's restaurant  in Seattle.  Every table was full.  Copper River king for lunch.  Sorry, there weren't Taku Kings on the menu this year.  At the time  it was abundantly clear to those of us who knew Kevin's positive spirit and energy that he was still going to beat this cancer and beat the odds.  But I wasn't taking any chances.  I had the opportunity to tell Kevin I loved him.  And so I did.   And it wasn't just one of those 'I love you, man' moments.  It was for real and true as life.  I felt it, knew it and had to say it.  And he graciously received it.

 Of course, you can imagine the result.  His face flushed, he looked a bit sideways and then lifted his hand partway into the air and called to the waitress, 'Check, please'.

I know a lot of the commercial fishermen couldn't be here today due to both ongoing fisheries and family plans, but I know I speak for the entire fishing fleet that Kevin was one of the 'rock stars' at ADFG and one of the finest human beings that God ever gave us the privilege to know.

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