Favorite Kenai river angling spots to reopen with platforms, boardwalks

Posted: Friday, July 06, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- After six years of closure, two public fishing areas on the north side of the Kenai River are reopening just in time for anglers to take advantage of them this season.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has announced the opening of two fishing platforms connected by boardwalks on a two-and-a-half to three-mile stretch of the Kenai River in Moose Range Meadows subdivision in Soldotna.

''The new facilities will restore some of the lost opportunity,'' said Robin West, refuge manager. ''But clearly the opportunity is significantly less than what people enjoyed prior to the subdividing and developing of the subdivision.''

In its heyday, the section of river was second only in popularity to the Russian River, West said, but it has been closed to public use since 1995, when the wildlife refuge decided something needed to be done about the erosion of the river bank.

Vegetation was trampled, and the flood of 1995 washed away a lot of the bank, West said. At that point the area was closed with an emergency order, and the refuge met with property owners and the public to decide what needed to be done with the area.

In the end, the group decided to seasonally close the stretch of river from July 1 until Aug. 15. For the past six years, the refuge and contractors have worked to build boardwalks and platforms that anglers could use instead of trampling the banks.

The end result is parking lots for about 50 vehicles and a boardwalk that connects two platforms extending out over the river. Anglers are restricted by the fast current and water depth near the first platform, but those on the second can stand in the river once the water level has lowered, West said.

West noted that landing a fish from a platform requires extra heavy line and cooperation among anglers.

Money from the 1995 Kenai River Emergency Flood fund was used to construct parking lots, restrooms, walkways, a ranger residence and fish cleaning tables.

Cash from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustees Council was used to purchase the two tracts of land and build the fishing platforms. The land was originally part of the refuge, but in the 1980s it was handed over to the Salamatof Native Corporation through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The trustees' grant allowed the refuge to regain title to the two riverside lots.

But the rest of the land has been subdivided for homes. Anglers should take into consideration that the area is predominantly private homes.

''Just be respectful of not fishing beyond the access points,'' West said. -

(Distributed by The Associated Press) -

Virginia woman has been a Girl Scout for more than 40 years

With AP Photo


The Free Lance-Star

An AP Member Exchange

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- It's hard to tell where Lynn Simms might be if she hadn't slipped a Girl Scout sash over her shoulder when she was 7.

For instance, she's convinced she got into the University of Chicago because she could dig her own latrine. She happened to mention that little skill as one of many learned in Scouting, and she's certain it impressed university officials.

If she hadn't been picked one of the top Girl Scouts in the country when she was in high school, she wouldn't have taken the train to Idaho, eating all her meals in a cattle car along the way. It was quite an experience for a girl from New Jersey.

She's 53 now, and while she still likes to dig the occasional outdoor toilet, Simms handles a different kind of work these days.

The Stafford County woman is president of the Commonwealth Girl Scout Council of Virginia, supervising planning and policies, money and management for 14,449 girls in 1,351 troops.

And even though she oversees a $3 million budget each year, she doesn't get a cent for her trouble. Not even a free box of Thin Mints or Samoas.

''I lose money doing this,'' Simms said. ''You can ask my husband.''

She puts more than 8,000 miles on her car each year traveling to award ceremonies. She leaves her job early or works in the evening on Scout programs several days a week.

Like other board members on the council, she's expected to contribute $300 a year, but says she gives three times that amount.

It's her way of paying back an organization that's done so much for her.

''That's what keeps everybody going,'' she said, ''knowing what it did for us as girls and seeing what it's done for girls who have been in our troops.''

Simms couldn't be president of the Commonwealth Council without support from two quarters: work and family.

She's a project manager in the Dahlgren office of Sentel Corp., a software engineering company. She led a group that helped the company achieve a higher industry standard.

''It puts us ahead of about 70 percent of the other companies,'' she said.

But when Simms has to leave the office in the middle of the day for a Girl Scout function -- which she does regularly -- Sentel lets her make up the work on her own time without losing pay or vacation time.

''We try to do that for our employees so they understand there are things beyond work,'' said Ray Babineau, vice president of technology and integration.

As long as the work gets done and the customers are happy, the company allows Simms pursue her volunteer work, which is practically a second full-time job, Babineau said.

The other needed support comes from her husband, Preston E. Simms, and children Kathleen, 24, and Preston W., 16.

Simms became a Girl Scout leader when Kathleen was a Brownie. She watched her own daughter become enamored with the outdoors, just as she had, and she's sure Kathleen's experiences led her to become an environmental scientist.

The two Prestons are active in Boy Scouts, and the older one is in the Marine Reserves, so he's always on one kind of camp-out or another.

The busy schedules sometimes mean that family events have to be postponed.

''I don't think my children ever celebrated their birthdays on their birthdays,'' Lynn Simms said. ''It was always skewed a day or two.'' Anniversaries were the same way.

But Simms believes she gets as much out of Girl Scouts as she puts into it. That's why she stayed with the troop until every girl she led graduated from high school.

''When my daughter graduated, everyone kept asking me, 'Why are you still in Girl Scouts?''' she said. ''Well, it's because I'm still learning and growing and when I stop, I'll drop out and die.'' -

(Distributed by The Associated Press)


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