River use study on tap for KRSMA board

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board members will hear presentations on the upcoming Kenai River Recreational Use Study, Homer Electric Association's upcoming hydro-electric feasibility study as well as follow-up reports on adding lands to KRSMA in the Kenai Lake area and hunting restrictions on the lower river when it meets Thursday at the Kenai River Center on Funny River Road.

Researcher Doug Whittaker, of Confluence Research and Consulting, will address the recreational use study.

The study is part of a $200,000 appropriation from the state, given to the Division of State Parks and Outdoor Recreation, to study the impacts or recreation on the river. According to Jack Sinclair, area superintendent for Parks, the need for a study goes back to 2002, when issues of limiting overcrowding on the lower river hit a legal impasse.

"The state of Alaska Superior Court basically said the state could not conduct a moratorium on guides in the lower river and would not limit any users groups until a study was done," Sinclair said.

Sinclair pointed out that the study is not just targeted at the guide industry, but will look at all user groups.

The study begins this month with focus group interviews. Survey and observational studies continue through the year, leading up to a report due in 2010.

A representative from the Homer Electric Association will also make a presentation on hydro-electric feasibility studies in the Ptarmigan Lake, Falls Creek and Grant Lake area. The issue was brought to the board's attention at the Nov. 13 meeting, prompting members to request a presentation from the HEA to learn more about the study and their plans.

Sinclair said the board members were seeking to clear up some confusion they had.

"There's some confusion over what's been said and what's in the permit. If there are some dams that are being proposed then they need to tell the board exactly what that means," he said. "They (the board) just want to know honestly what they're looking at."

The board will hear a follow up report from the River Use Committee on hunting restrictions on the lower river. The report will include a revised map of existing and proposed areas.

Sinclair will also give a short report on the status of adding lands to KRSMA in the Kenai Lake area.

The KRSMA advisory board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.

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