Grant from federal government to help restore popular fishing spot on Alaska river bank

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

KENAI, Alaska — A heavily trafficked stretch of the Kenai River’s southern bank is getting repaired in time for the sockeye salmon season thanks to a $37,500 grant from the federal government.

The crumbling riverbank behind the Donald E. Gilman River Center in Soldotna has been depositing silt into the water. The erosion can hurt salmon, which depend on sufficient bank vegetation and gravel beds in the river for habitat, The Peninsula Clarion reported.

“This completed restoration project may be used to illustrate four to five different techniques in riverbank restoration, furthering public awareness and understanding of the causes and detriments of near-shore erosion, as well as the benefits of habitat protection,” River Center Manager Tom Dearlove wrote in a memo to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

The project to repair 500 linear feet of riverbank was paid by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant and a matching contribution from the assembly for a combined total of $75,000. Borough officials accepted the grant at a meeting last week.

The Kenai Peninsula is one of Alaska’s most popular tourist destinations for sport fishing. The River Center offers visitors an access trail down to the river and is free of charge.

The center sees up to 100 people at a time during days in the summer, Dearlove said.

The borough hopes to finish the riverbank restoration work by June 30, before anglers head out for the peak of the sockeye salmon run in July.

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