Public's input sought for Kenai-Russian River management plan

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011

From April-October 2011, you are invited to assist in developing an effective action plan for reducing human-bear conflicts in the Kenai-Russian River area. We would like to have your participation by providing input and collaborative dialogue.

The Kenai-Russian River area is an intensively used recreation area, valued by anglers and other visitors for its easy access to the popular roadside fishery and recreation site between the months of May and September. High visitation coupled with the abundant fishery has led to periodic conflicts between the people who visit the area and bears that also come to the rivers.

Each year, the agencies that manage the Kenai-Russian River area work with the public to reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts at this heavily visited area. A human-bear conflict is considered to be:

* bears exhibiting a stress-related or curious behavior, causing a person to take extreme evasive action;

* bears making physical contact with a person or exhibiting clear predatory behavior; or,

* bears are intentionally harmed or killed (not including legal harvests) by a person.

Human-bear conflicts in the Russian River area have resulted in personal injury to visitors and in bears being killed to protect public safety. Past management actions have focused on how anglers handle harvested fish and fish waste; proper storage of human food and beverages; area and night-time closures; and public education about ways to avoid attracting bears to areas used by humans.

To facilitate the development of an action plan, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska State Parks and Recreation Division, Kenaitze Indian Tribe, and Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated are hosting a series of public forums in several different communities.

Please join us at one of these forums to share and discuss your experiences, thoughts and ideas on how to reduce conflicts between humans and bears in the Russian and Kenai River high use area. At these evening forums, we will all discuss what management actions and strategies would be most appropriate and effective to reduce human-bear conflicts at this important area. We hope you can attend an entire evening to hear a brief opening presentation and to participate fully in active discussions.

Schedule of Meetings:

Cooper Landing: 6-9 p.m. Monday at the Cooper Landing Community Center, Bean Creek Road.

Soldotna: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Gilman River Center, 514 Funny River Road.

Wasilla: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Station 61, Central Mat-Su Public Safety Building, 101 W. Swanson Avenue, Training Room 1.

Anchorage: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the University of Alaska Anchorage, The Commons, 3700 Sharon Gagnon Lane, Room 106. To park, take Providence Drive east toward UAA, turn south on Elmore Road, look for "Visitor Parking" sign at second right, just past Sharon Gagnon Lane. The visitor parking area is accessible only from the southbound lanes of Elmore Road.

For more information, please go to: https://projects.ecr.gov/kenai-russianriver/ or contact project facilitator Jan Caulfield at janc@gci.net or at 907-523-4610 (in Juneau).

Janet Schmidt is the Supervisory Park Ranger for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

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Previous Refuge Notebook articles can be viewed on the refuge website http://kenai.fws.gov/. You can check on new bird arrivals or report your bird sighting on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Birding Hotline at 907-262-2300.



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