Cities brace for summer throngs

With summer right around the corner, the Central Peninsula is gearing up for what should be another busy year.

The city of Soldotna is installing new fish cleaning stations in Centennial Park to help alleviate the fish waste problem on the shores of the river.

"Centennial Park had problems last year with fish carcasses on the river bank," Soldotna City Manager Larry Semmens said.

The stations were approved during the City Council's Feb. 22 meeting and will be located upstream of the boat launch area because of the stronger current there, Semmens said.

"We have chutes on the cleaning stations that go out into the river," he said. "The hope is the fish carcasses will get into the river current and carry them away from the bank in Centennial Park."

Semmens said there is financial assistance on the project from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the stations should be completed next month.

The city of Soldotna is also trying to help decrease the encroachment on private property near Rotary Park down Funny River Road, Semmens said.

"What has happened is the adjacent property owners' land has been used extensively by people fishing in Rotary Park and meandered upstream to private property,"

Semmens said there is going to be additional signage and a fence that will hopefully encourage people to not use the private property inappropriately. 

"The whole private property issue is a big deal," Semmens said. "Trampling the banks on private property or trampling the banks anywhere is a problem on the river."

Semmens hopes anglers this summer will be respectful of the river banks and adhere to fishing areas provided.

"We'd like to encourage people to be respectful of the privilege of being able to use our resources responsibly," he said.

"If everybody is respectful of the resource than it'll provide a better quality experience for everyone."

Rick Koch, Kenai city manager said the city will add some new waste collection and cleaning stations on the beach next year in order to cut down on the amounts of fish waste left on the beach.

"We'll see some changes next year when we're collecting that fish waste rather than allowing the personal-use fishery participants to simply throw fish waste on the beach or the river," Koch said. "They'll have to collect it into these stations where it can then be disposed of."

But for now, everything is status quo, Koch said.

"Every year we go through the same program, we clean the silt off of the launch down at the City Dock, we get Cunningham Park ready for the influx of boats to come in there and use the restrooms," Koch explained. "We put Dumpsters around for the waste that's generated by folks down on the beach during the personal-use fishery."

Koch said the city will have about 25 to 30 people employed to assist with the personal-use fishery in July.

Koch offered some advice for residents to prepare for the expected influx of visitors.

"I would say from the time you leave your home, wherever it is, take a deep breath and be patient," Koch said.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at logan.tuttle@peninsulaclarion.com.

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