While everyone supports caring for the Kenai River and preserving it for future generations, it’s a smaller percentage of folks who actually roll up their sleeves and physically do something to help maintain the river. Many who do are members of the volunteer Stream Watch program administered by the Kenai Watershed Forum. May 31st Stream Watch volunteers were out in force at the closed Big Eddy Recreational Site for a riverbank stewardship project, “What we are doing here today is spruce tree revetment. Riverside plants are critical to river health and fish populations. In areas where riverside plants are trampled by foot traffic soil loss or erosion can occur. This area has experienced significant erosion so those important plants are gone which accelerates erosion. We are taking spruce trees from other sites and anchoring them in place to the bank which slows the water decreasing erosion and providing fish habitat while trapping sediment and over time aiding in rebuilding bank structure,” explained Stream Watch coordinator Lisa Beranek. According to Beranek the tree limbs also reduce near-bank water velocities, provide protection from scour and erosion while providing cover for juvenile fish and act as a source of organic debris for aquatic bugs that fish fed on.
Wells Fargo Community Development Manager Judith Crotty was one of the volunteers who lent a hand and then handed over a $25,000 contribution to help the Stream Watch program, “We believe at Wells Fargo that when communities do well, we do well and in 2012 Wells Fargo created a commitment of $100 million dollars to donate to non-profit organizations and universities that are demonstrating environmental stewardship through the year 2020. A part of that commitment is a public private partnership with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and I’m proud to say that the Kenai Watershed Forum and specifically the Stream Watch program which is what we are here for today is a recipient of a $25,000 grant from this public private partnership,” Crotty told the appreciative gathering. “There’s nothing better than investing in volunteers engaged in community activity to help restore one of the most beautiful rivers in Alaska, it makes us all proud,” she added.
According to Beranek the day was one of many planned for Steam Watch volunteers this summer, “We do projects like this throughout the summer as one day volunteer opportunities and we also have ongoing volunteer opportunities with our next orientation coming up in Soldotna on Saturday June 29th. Folks interested can look us up at KenaiWatershed.org or call me directly at KWF 907-260-5449.”