More Kenai River user feeling crowded

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003

KENAI (AP) -- More people felt crowded as they used the Kenai River last year, according to a state parks survey, which compared results to a survey done 10 years ago.

The study was carried out at the request of the Kenai River Special Management Area advisory board. The board said a study was needed to follow up a larger one done in 1992 that indicated the number of boats on the river was hampering enjoyment of the river.

Users were interviewed as they left the river and asked to rate experiences on a scale of 1 to 9.

In 1992, approximately 25 percent of respondents said they felt crowding was high. Last year, 38 percent said they felt crowding was at a high level.

Alaska State Parks area superintendent Chris Degernes said 2002 was unusual because the fishery was limited due to a poor return of early-run king salmon.

''A lot of the fishing was compressed into the lower part of the river,'' she said.

Other survey questions addressed people's overall enjoyment of the river. Problems such as fishing violations, littering and aggressive behavior were perceived to be about the same as in 1992.

Additionally, even though anglers said they felt the river was more crowded in 2002, their ability to find an uncrowded fishing spot remained virtually unchanged. In 1992, 12 percent of survey participants said they had difficulty finding an uncrowded spot at least 75 percent of the time. In 2002, that number had climbed to just 15 percent.

Degernes said her agency has been hearing about crowding issues on the Kenai for years and the monitoring project further outlines problems on the river. People also could make comments, which showed a growing desire to limit commercial guiding operations.

''The only thing that really stood out was support for limiting guides,'' Degernes said. The agency already has set a guide moratorium for 2003.

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