Kasilof rec site to get facelift

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2004

The Kasilof River State Recreation Site will undergo rehabilitation after Aug. 8, limiting public access to the boat ramp.

Chris Degernes, Kenai Area Parks Superintendent with Alaska State Parks, said that after Aug. 8, public access to the boat ramp will be on a day-to-day basis. The whole boat ramp will be replaced, so opportunities for the public access will be rare.

The boat ramp is located at Mile 109 of the Sterling Highway, right next to the bridge over the Kasilof River.

"After August 8, users should plan for no more access," Degernes said. "If the contractor doesn't need to be working, it may be open."

Degernes said those wondering if the boat launch would be open on a certain day can call 262-5581.

Although Degernes said activity at the recreation site peaks in May and June when the king salmon hit the Kasilof, the recreation site also sees use in August due to the silver salmon run.

"There are going to be some people disrupted," Degernes said. "That's why we are trying to get the word out."

The construction must be started in August due to Mother Nature. The project will take 75 to 90 days, according to Degernes, so starting it in August will hopefully allow completion before freeze-up in late October or November.

The project could not have started earlier in the summer due to the popularity of the king salmon run.

It is that popularity, according to Degernes, which has made the project necessary.

"During the king salmon run, the site gets supercongested," Degernes said. "It wasn't designed for that many users. It gets pretty nutty."

The site currently has 11 campsites and 20 parking sites. After the rehabilitation, Degernes said there will be 10 campsites and 65 parking sites.

Congestion also will be relieved by staging areas. Those tending to their boats before or after launch will no longer be plugging up traffic for those trying to launch boats.

The entrance to the recreation site also will be relocated a quarter mile south of the river.

"There is a significant safety problem with access off the Sterling Highway so close to the bridge," Degernes said. "There were many accidents when someone was stopped to make a left-hand turn into the site, and they were hit by people habitually looking at the river when they cross the bridge."

Degernes said there will be several options for those looking to fish the Kasilof River after Aug. 8. Drift boats could launch at the Tustumena Lake boat launch, float the upper river and take out at launches below the bridge.

"Only expert boat handlers should float the upper Kasilof," Degernes said. "I floated it Monday night and the water is way up and moving fast."

Those in drift boats could also launch at Cohoe Cove, located on Cohoe Loop, and take out two miles downstream at Trujillo's Landing, which is located off Kalifornsky Beach Road.

Degernes said those with engines could also launch at Trujillo's or Cohoe Cove and travel to where they want to fish. The Kasilof River opens to motorized use on Aug. 1.

Finally, Degernes said boaters also have the option of fishing the Kenai River.

"I wish we could move the timing around, but we've got to get this done," Degernes said. "That's the nature of construction in Alaska."

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