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Kenai River draws people together

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

To residents of the central Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River is "the river." We say "the river" as if there were no others around, or at least no others worthy of mention.

A local dad will say, "Where are the boys?"

And mom will reply, "Oh, they're at the river."

The river means much to us, although we sometimes forget how much, and we sometimes take it for granted.

For its size, it produces tremendous quantities of salmon, which in turn attract tremendous numbers of people.

In recent years, more than 100,000 people per year have fished it with rod and reel, catching tens of thousands of king, silver and pink salmon and hundreds of thousands of red salmon.

Other people joyfully dipnet hundreds of thousands of reds at the river's mouth, in Kenai.

Along the 18 miles of the upper river, still others float and fly fish for trout in a semi-wilderness setting.

The river is one of the main engines driving our local economy. Though farmed salmon have depressed the market in the past decade, commercial gill-netters in Cook Inlet still harvest hundreds of thousands of red salmon that are bound for the river.

In recent years, lodges, bed and breakfasts and guided sportfishing have multiplied and now contribute millions to the local economy.

The river has always been a magnet for people. Six thousand years before Christ was born, Natives fished along it. Within the past two decades, the river has become crowded, particularly in the last two weeks of July, when the king and red runs are peaking. Complaints of "crowding" and "too many guides" have become a mantra.

While almost everyone acknowledges that crowding is sometimes a problem, no one seems to have a cure. About the only thing that will keep people from coming to the Kenai is if the salmon stop coming, which is unthinkable. So, we endure the crowds. Some of us even revel in them. After all, where there are crowds, there are salmon.

This beautiful, bountiful river is the heart, soul and spirit of our community. It's the very reason people live in this place, and the reason others come here from all over the world.

If you're visiting the Kenai River for the first time, don't be surprised if you catch yourself referring to it simply as "the river." It's something that grows on you.

To residents of the central Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River is "the river." We say "the river" as if there were no others around, or at least no others worthy of mention.

A local dad will say, "Where are the boys?"

And mom will reply, "Oh, they're at the river."

The river means much to us, although we sometimes forget how much, and we sometimes take it for granted.

For its size, it produces tremendous quantities of salmon, which in turn attract tremendous numbers of people.

In recent years, more than 100,000 people per year have fished it with rod and reel, catching tens of thousands of king, silver and pink salmon and hundreds of thousands of red salmon.

Other people joyfully dipnet hundreds of thousands of reds at the river's mouth, in Kenai.

Along the 18 miles of the upper river, still others float and fly fish for trout in a semi-wilderness setting.

The river is one of the main engines driving our local economy. Though farmed salmon have depressed the market in the past decade, commercial gill-netters in Cook Inlet still harvest hundreds of thousands of red salmon that are bound for the river.

In recent years, lodges, bed and breakfasts and guided sportfishing have multiplied and now contribute millions to the local economy.

The river has always been a magnet for people. Six thousand years before Christ was born, Natives fished along it. Within the past two decades, the river has become crowded, particularly in the last two weeks of July, when the king and red runs are peaking. Complaints of "crowding" and "too many guides" have become a mantra.

While almost everyone acknowledges that crowding is sometimes a problem, no one seems to have a cure. About the only thing that will keep people from coming to the Kenai is if the salmon stop coming, which is unthinkable. So, we endure the crowds. Some of us even revel in them. After all, where there are crowds, there are salmon.

This beautiful, bountiful river is the heart, soul and spirit of our community. It's the very reason people live in this place, and the reason others come here from all over the world.

If you're visiting the Kenai River for the first time, don't be surprised if you catch yourself referring to it simply as "the river." It's something that grows on you.



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