Ken Tarbox holds the prototype of the new Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Guide that will be available this summer and showcased at the KVCC kick-off reception.
Surveys show that more visitors come to Alaska to see wildlife and breathtaking scenery then to catch a trophy fish. Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula has earned a global reputation as being the one destination that has it all. So when family, friends or clients come to visit expecting to see it all in a few days how do you make it happen for them without being a professional wildlife guide? The answer is available this month in the fresh off the press community effort known as Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Guide accompanied by the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail Map.
Wildlife Trail map that accompanies new Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Guide.
The project was an idea incubated in the mind of retired Fish & Game Biologist Ken Tarbox, “After I retired I took on visiting wildlife trails in other states as a hobby and saw places outside that were incredible but couldn’t match the Kenai Peninsula for diversity of animals and most of the trails were birding trails, but again nothing like the Peninsula has in terms of birds, mammals and marine mammals, so I came back with the idea that we should have a trail map here,” Tarbox told the Dispatch at last weeks Guide kick-off reception at the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center. Tarbox says that luckily there were several other people in the area who had been incubating the same idea and just looking for a source of funding. “We were able to clear that hurdle through the federal government and the Alaska Trails initiative and State Parks. State Parks gave the money to the department of Fish & Game Watchable Wildlife program, which then went out and solicited help to put the guide together. But the grant was only for $125,000, and usually a trail like this takes between one half and two million dollars to put together. Once again the community stepped up with over 50 volunteers coming forward to work on this project, and through the internet we were able to connect organizations and anyone who wanted to help us put this together. I was so impressed how the entire Peninsula community pulled together to complete this project and make this a wonderful experience,” said Tarbox.
The book is set up in four sections with 65 sites that cover the entire Kenai Peninsula. “So you just pick up the guide and look at the area where you live or are visiting and check out the notable species in that area. So let’s say you are interested in moose so you look up the sites where moose are listed and go to that site or if you’re a birder one of the unique species found on the Peninsula is Red Face Cormorants so you simply thumb through the Guide and see that they are found down on Gull Island and off shore in Seward,” explained Tarbox. The Guide features viewing opportunities 12 months a year and after living on the Kenai for some 28 years Tarbox says he is continuing to find new things that even he didn’t know we had to see, “For example in the winter at the mouth of the Kasilof River there are more than 6,000 Rock Sandpipers and we didn’t even know they existed at the Kasilof site until a couple of years ago.”
The book should arrive from the printers this month and will be available at the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council (KPTMC) and at Visitor Centers in each community. Additionally wholesale purchases will be available in bulk from the KPTMC for anyone wishing to have them available at their place of business. For more information you can go to www.kenaipeninsula.org or call the KPTMC at 262-5229.
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