The western shore of the Kenai Peninsula is slowly sliding into Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, according to researchers with the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve in Homer.
What scientists want to know is whether human activities are accelerating this natural process.
To discuss that question, the research reserve, now headquartered in the new Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, will host a free all-day workshop March 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The workshop will bring together local citizens and experts in coastal processes.
"It's time to incorporate science-based information into our decisions regarding land-use planning and management," said Rick Foster, education specialist with the research reserve.
The workshop is the first to be offered in the reserve's Coastal Training Program that will make cutting-edge science and technology available to decision-makers looking at coastal development. Topics will include land and oceanic processes at work on the peninsula coast, how humans affect and are affected by the resulting erosive actions, and techniques that other communities around the nation have used to deal with similar situations, a reserve press release said.
Among the coastal experts from around the country expected to participate are Owen Mason of the University of Alaska, lead author of "Living with the Coast of Alaska."
Dick Reger, a geologist recently retired from the Alaska
Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, will guide workshop presenters on a tour of the coastline between Nikiski and Homer on March 16, the day before the main workshop, visiting various sites to view current conditions.
Reger has studied the geology of the Kenai Peninsula for more than 30 years.
On March 18, the experts are expected to meet with officials from the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the cities of Homer and Kenai for another workshop, focusing on challenges facing the peninsula. The public is invited, though no public comment period is scheduled.
"We're really excited about this event," said Foster. "It's a great opportunity to bring top scientists together with local citizens and officials. There's a lot we still need to learn in this area, and we hope the conference will spur research that will lead to better management of our coastal lands."
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