Alaska residents step in, fix river bank to prepare for sockeye salmon season

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

SOLDOTNA, Alaska — About 40 people gathered recently on the banks of the Kenai River to dig trenches and mount willow boughs for habitat restoration.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the Alaska residents got together for a two-day workshop at the Donald E. Giman River Center. The Alaska Fish and Game Department hosts the free workshops annually to teach people about the best methods for working on and repairing stream banks to provide for fish habitat and passage.

The bank below the River Center is a busy place during the Kenai River’s sockeye salmon run in July. As a result, the bank has been heavily damaged over time, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly recently accepted a matching grant for the River Center to restore some of the bank before sockeye season begins.

Tracy Smith, who coordinates the cost-share program under Fish and Game’s Division of Sportfish, walked participants through the digging process.

“It’s sort of that instant gratification, (and) good fish habitat,” she said.

Smith said Fish and Game currently is currently working with about 16 private landowners on the Kenai River on habitat projects through the cost-share program and is heading up to Talkeetna mid-May for another workshop. They’ll also be hosting a workshop in Fairbanks at the end of May.

“It gives people a sense of ownership,” she said.

The workshops are free and open to the public.

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