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Sabine Poux/KDLL

Nikiski is a little greener these days. Gardeners have tilled and planted a garden next to the Nikiski Community Park on Hedberg Drive, where volunteers can plant, pick and take home their own produce.

Toni Loop, of Nikiski, has been planning the project for a while and made headway this summer. About a third of the garden is now planted.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Cook Inlet salmon fishery was once an economic engine for Kenai.

But the fishing there is no longer lucrative. Many fishermen with deep ties to the inlet are retiring — or moving elsewhere. 


Courtesy of Arctic Fox Adventures

The skies over Southcentral Alaska are hazy with smoke. But it’s not from any nearby fires. 

The haze is blowing east from wildfires in Siberia, amid one of the worst wildfire seasons Russia has ever experienced.

“The whole northern hemisphere is burning right now. But the wildfires in Siberia are particularly bad this year," said Mike Lawson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Soldotna Public Library, Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and other city buildings will require face masks starting Monday morning, as COVID-19 case counts continue to climb locally.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Tuesday is the first day of school in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. For many families and staff, the usual first-day jitters are accompanied by deep concerns about rising coronavirus case numbers on the Kenai Peninsula.

The district is starting the school year with a new COVID-19 mitigation plan. Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff said they’ll handle cases of potential exposure to the virus a little differently than they did last year.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Ninilchik has fewer than 1,000 year-round residents.

But in the summer, the town balloons with thousands of tourists. Over two weekends in particular, during Salmonfest and the Kenai Peninsula Fair, the area’s packed with festival-goers. 

While the additional bodies — and wallets — are good for local businesses, they can also be a bit overwhelming.


Redoubt Reporter file photo

Kenai’s South Beach is seeing higher-than-normal levels of bacteria, likely due to the abundance of seagulls and fish carcasses on the beach.

Laura Eldred is an environmental program specialist with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. She said beach-goers should take some precautions to avoid getting sick but the high levels of bacteria aren’t cause for major alarm.

Rashah McChesney/Alaska Energy Desk

A federal judge ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revise its regulations on oil dispersants, siding with Cook Inletkeeper and other plaintiffs that the current regulations don’t reflect updated research on how toxic those chemicals can be.

Courtesy of Hannah Etengoff

To most Alaskans, it’s food. To some, a livelihood. To others, a sport. No matter how you slice it, or filet it, salmon is deeply important to Alaskans. And salmon lovers across the state, like Steve Schoonmaker, of Kasilof, are celebrating the species today.

“First of all, I’m waking up and I’m remembering what Alaska Salmon Day means," he said. "And how lucky we are in Alaska to have wild salmon.”

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Alaska’s largest newspaper is no longer delivering print copies to the Kenai Peninsula. The Anchorage Daily News delivered its last physical newspaper to the area last week after it became too expensive to send papers south of Girdwood, said Daily News Circulation Manager Mark Wasser.

Wasser said the Daily News saw a 60 percent decline in print subscribers from the Kenai Peninsula in the last decade, as more started reading the paper online. And he said, amid high transportation costs, print delivery no longer made economic sense for the company.

Courtesy of Doug Blossom

Kenai Peninsula set-netters were already having a bad summer, following the early closure of their fishery earlier last month.

That situation turned from bad to worse for four set-net families late last week when their beach sites in Clam Gulch were vandalized. Alaska State Troopers said they have since identified and charged the vandals, two juveniles, through their posts on social media.

Salmonfest returns

Aug 6, 2021
Sabine Poux/KDLL

After taking a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salmonfest is back, Aug. 6, 7 and 8. KDLL reporter Sabine Poux is at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik to see how the 10th annual music festival is shaping up. Cook Inletkeeper Executive Director Sue Mauger and Kenai Peninsula Fisher Poet performers says its important to celebrate salmon.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce said the current process for appointing city representatives to the borough’s planning commission needs an update. He drafted an ordinance that outlines several suggestions to revamp the code last month.

But representatives from borough cities worry those changes would take what’s historically been a city decision and place it in the hands of the borough. 

Alaska State Troopers

A Niksiki motorcyclist died in a collision on the Kenai Spur Highway Wednesday evening, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers said 40-year-old Martin Marlin was driving his motorcycle near mile 18 of the Kenai Spur a little after 5 p.m. when he collided with a Nissan SUV that was turning in front of him.

Photo Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Municipal Airport is is the first thing a lot of people see when they get into town.

So it’s important that it looks good. And it’s much more up-to-date now, after a nearly $14 million remodel that wrapped up last spring. 

The city is cutting the ribbon on the updated terminal this week. 


Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Researchers and the Cooperative Extension Service want to know how the pandemic and the 2019 Swan Lake Fire impacted food resilience on the Kenai Peninsula.

Courtney Long is a PhD student at Iowa State University. She said the study on the peninsula is one of five she’s conducting in rural communities across the country. 

Krissy Dunker / Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Biologists have been working on eliminating northern pike from Kenai Peninsula lakes and streams for years. Northern pike are native to Alaska north of the Alaska Range in areas like Bristol Bay and Fairbanks, but they were introduced to lakes in Southcentral in the mid-20th century. Since then, they’ve been stuffing themselves on salmon fry and degrading salmon runs in the Mat-Su Valley, Anchorage, and the Kenai Peninsula.

"You get down in Southcentral where pike have been on the landscape 60 years or so—we have a before and after picture," said Krissy Dunker, who manages the Southcentral Alaska Invasive Species program for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "We know certain systems that used to produce coho, chinook and other things, and those are gone now. It’s just pike."

Redoubt Reporter file photo

Sport anglers can keep double the normal number of sockeye salmon in the Kenai River starting tomorrow as the run is ramping up.

 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the bag limit increase this afternoon. Starting tomorrow morning, anglers can keep up to six sockeye per day with twleve in possession. That applies to the river downstream of Skilak Lake.

The Kenai Peninsula weathered the COVID-19 pandemic a little better than other areas of Alaska, according to the latest data from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Face masks will not be required in Kenai Peninsula Borough schools when classes start up again this month — contrary to new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that schools universally require masks amid the more contagious Delta variant.

The mask policy is part of the district’s new COVID-19 mitigation plan for the upcoming school year.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is bringing in $5 million more in sales tax revenue than it forecasted in the early days of the pandemic, with an estimated $30.3 million coming in for fiscal year 2021.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Lydia Jacoby left Tokyo, Japan this weekend with another Olympic medal. The 17-year-old Seward swimmer won silver for her role in the women’s 400-meter medley relay Saturday, where she swam the second leg of the race and logged a time of 1:05.03.

It’s Jacoby’s second medal of the Olympics. She won gold for her surprise victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke last week.

Redoubt Reporter

The Board of Fisheries has denied two emergency petitions from Kenai Peninsula setnetters asking to reopen a limited fishery for what is left of the sockeye run.

 

The east side setnet commercial fishery has been closed since July 20 after the Alaska Department of Fish and game closed the Kenai River king salmon sportfishery. The setnets are tied to the restrictions in the sportfishery, and came out of the water entirely when the sportfishery closed. The late run of king salmon has been depressed this year—only 6,420 large kings have passed the sonar on the Kenai, and Fish and Game is projecting that the run won’t make the lower end of the escapement goal, even without harvest.

Mitch Michaud

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Kenai Peninsula Borough have submitted a funding request to address spruce bark beetle kill on the peninsula — the latest effort to curb the ongoing beetle kill crisis that’s destroyed spruce forests across Southcentral. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward and the rest of Alaska watched proudly Monday when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won Olympic gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke.

Lydia’s parents, Rich and Leslie Jacoby, were watching, too, with other Olympian families in Orlando, Fla.

Rich, a maritime instructor for AVTEC, said they’ve been catching up with their gold medalist over the phone. And he said the last few days have been really exciting.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.

The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

When an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit near the Alaska Peninsula Wednesday, local alert systems sprang into action, beeping, buzzing and blaring to notify Alaskans in coastal communities they should get to higher ground.

Those notification systems require lots of preparation and funding well before a tsunami threat hits, explained Dan Nelson, emergency manager with the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management.

Kenai Peninsula Fair

 Every year, the students in the Kenai Peninsula 4-H program show off and auction the livestock they’ve been raising all year to the highest bidder. For years, it’s been at the Kenai Peninsula Fair, which takes places in mid-August in Ninilchik.

 

But this year, it’s moving to its own Agriculture Expo at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Scheduled for August 6–8, the fair will feature the regular livestock auction as well as a horse show and variety of agriculture-focused workshops.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Jury trials have again been suspended in the Kenai and Homer courts, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The order comes just three months after the courts restarted jury trials. Before that, they were put on hold for a year amid concerns about bringing jurors into the courtroom during the pandemic.

Courtesy of ADEC

A truck carrying crude oil from BlueCrest Energy, near Anchor Point, spilled an estimated 900 gallons of oil in Happy Valley on Tuesday morning, in a head-on collision that injured three people.

Officials from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the leak did not reach any nearby wetlands or immediately impact nearby wildlife. They said the site has since been blocked and a crew is removing the affected soil to be remediated.

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