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Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

The racers scrambling up Mt. Marathon don’t talk much. But every once in a while, they offer some comment of encouragement to another racer who looks like they’re struggling. The junior racers, some as young as 7, forge their way up through the thick mud on the trail toward a turnaround point, and it can be kind of defeating on the way up.


Sabine Poux/KDLL

Fifty years ago, the federal government recognized the Kenaitze Indian Tribe as a sovereign nation. This anniversary year, the tribe is expanding.

It’s raising a new building on the corner of the Kenai Spur Highway and Forest Drive in Kenai to house its educational programming.

“The Kahtnuht’ana Duhdeldiht Campus," said Bernadine Atchison, chair of Kenaitze’s tribal council. "Which is called, 'The Learning Place.'"

Courtesy of Alaska LNG project

The Alaska LNG project would take natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska down to a proposed plant on the Kenai Peninsula, in Nikiski, where it would be liquified, shipped out and sold. 

The gas is already pumped out of the ground on the North Slope. But it isn’t currently sent to market. 

To get it there, the state wants to construct an 800-mile pipeline. And last year, it got the go-ahead from environmental regulators, under then-President Donald Trump, to build the massive project.

But now the Biden administration wants to take another look.

Elizabeth Earl/KDLL

This article has been updated to include all race results.

After a year of no crowds and few in-person athletics, the excitement was evident in Seward today at the annual Mount Marathon race. Even persistent showers couldn’t dampen the spirits around town.

The race, organized by the Mount Marathon Race Committee and the Seward Chamber of Commerce, attracts competitive mountain runners from all over the state and country. Nicknamed “the world’s hardest 5K,” it sends runners from downtown Seward straight up Mount Marathon, where they tag the 3,022-foot peak and then run back downhill to the finish.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted just about everything, including food shipments to grocery stores all over Alaska. Last year, Alaskans really felt it, with some products just not available.

Alaska depends on shipments for about 95 percent of its food, which makes the state fragile when those supply lines are interrupted. Reportedly, interest in local food has grown during the pandemic as well—good news for the Kenai Peninsula, which was home to more than 250 farms in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers and local food advocates have stood on that fact to push for more in-state food production support and infrastructure, and with the pandemic highlighting food insecurity, they are taking the opportunity to push for broader changes.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Wildlife officials said they shot a bear after it attacked a man in his camper near Seward during the busy holiday weekend.

The man had fallen asleep with his camper's door open at Fourth of July Beach, across Resurrection Bay from downtown Seward, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Redoubt Reporter

Kenai River anglers are allowed to catch and keep kings of any size this month, as long as they do it with a single unbaited hook. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game made that decision after analyzing the projections for the run and the outcome of the early Kenai king run last month.

But sport fishing guides worry that taking big kings out of the river will hurt the population long term. They’re asking anglers to release the large kings they catch anyway.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Fine Art Center is celebrating a lot — a new director, a new space and a new exhibit.

“The More We Get Together” opened this week. It’s the first exhibit at the center since the pandemic.

It’s a nice return to normal for artists like Laura Faeo, one of the potters with art on display. She said she leaned into pottery during the pandemic.


Econ 919 — Fireworks

Jul 2, 2021
Photo: Wesley Early/KOTZ

Personal fireworks are largely illegal on the Kenai Peninsula. That rule goes for most of Southcentral, too, though each municipality is responsible for its own rules.

But there is at least one place in Southcentral where fireworks are legal on private land: the city of Houston, between Willow and Wasilla. Houston is also the home of Gorilla Fireworks, which says it's Alaska’s biggest fireworks store.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

For commercial fishermen, the difference between getting a few more hours of sleep or not can sometimes be a question of livelihood.

That’s what Jerry Dzugan explains in his classes. He’s the executive director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, or AMSEA, based in Sitka.

Courtesy of Department of Natural Resources

It’s been about four years since the state put the brakes on a project that would have improved a boat ramp facility on the Lower Kasilof River. Now, the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is seeking to formalize that facility as drift boat retrieval only.

Wikimedia Commons

Starting this summer, Alaska Medicaid can no longer deny coverage to transgender Alaskans undergoing gender-affirming treatment.

That’s following the January settlement of a class action lawsuit filed by Swan Being, a transgender woman from Homer who said Alaska Medicaid refused to cover costs related to hormone treatment in 2019.

Being sued the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees Alaska’s Medicaid program, and department commissioner Adam Crum. She alleged the state’s policies discriminated against transgender Alaskans and violated the 14th Amendment, which grants all Americans equal treatment under the law.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

It’s finally sunny and nice out, and with a three-day holiday weekend ahead, Alaskans are likely to hit the outdoors in every direction. That’s always been the case, but in the past two years, it’s been more than ever.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 and most social activities were shuttered, Alaskans headed outside in record numbers. For Southcentral Alaska, that often means the Chugach National Forest, Chugach State Park and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Across those three areas, trails, cabins and campgrounds saw unprecedented use.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Soldotna Republican Rep. Ron Gillham shared a post on his personal Facebook last week that likened those who provide information about COVID-19 vaccines to Nazis who were executed for war crimes after World War II.

Alaska State Troopers

Two people are safely back in Anchorage after their plane crashed in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Monday afternoon.

City of Kenai

Tourism took a serious hit last year worldwide, with travel restricted and people staying home. The Kenai Peninsula got a little bump from in-state travel traffic, but overall, it was still a pretty quiet year here, and many tourism businesses received aid through local programs supported by federal relief funds last summer and fall.

However, in Kenai, the city council thinks the tourism industry has recovered enough where they don’t need help anymore.

KBBI

The way the state counts COVID-19 vaccinations is changing to be more accurate, but it means the percentage of vaccinated people reported in Homer will go down sharply.

Currently, the state reports that 79 percent of people in Homer have received at least one vaccine. But starting Wednesday, that number will go down to 61 percent. That’s because the state is changing its population data to include the surrounding area of Fritz Creek.

The Alaska House has voted to avert a state government shutdown.

In a Monday floor session, the House voted 28 to 10 to allow the budget bill to go into effect Thursday, July 1. Among the no votes were all the peninsula’s House representatives — Ben Carpenter, of Nikiski, Ron Gillham, of Soldotna, and Sarah Vance, of Homer.

Lemonade Day fills streets with sweet treats

Jun 28, 2021
Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

If you looked around the central Kenai Peninsula on Saturday, you might have felt heavy pressure to buy a glass of lemonade. Dozens of entrepreneurs were trying their hands at all kinds of advertising, from sign-spinning to price undercutting, on the streets of Kenai and Soldotna.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Law enforcement is investigating after a man reported being bitten by a brown bear on the Upper Kenai River Trail this weekend.

A man reported the incident Sunday around 8 p.m. on the upper part of the Kenai River Trail, which starts from Skilak Lake Loop Road. According to Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the man was hiking alone with his dog when the dog chased a female bear with two cubs, causing her to charge the hiker.

Wonderlane/Wikimedia Commons

The federal moratorium on evictions has been extended through the end of July. That means tenants will have until July 31, instead of June 30, to get their rent payments in order without getting ousted from their housing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention introduced the eviction moratorium last September, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through homeless shelters and other congregate living. The agency has extended the order several times and said this extension will be the last.

Kenai’s Allie Ostrander fell short of an Olympic bid at the Olympic Trial finals in Eugene, Ore. Thursday night. But she did make a personal best, with a time of 9:26.96 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. 

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

There have been a lot of “help wanted” signs in store windows this spring. The Kenai Peninsula, like the rest of the country, is facing a worker shortage, with too many job openings and not enough applicants.

It’s impacted Shelly Endsley, who owns the Orca Theater on Kalifornsky Beach Road. 


Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

If you’ve driven through the Kenai Peninsula recently, you’ve likely noticed traffic is back.

Roads are again seeing the traffic they saw in summer 2019, and then some, according to data from the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Since the Alaska Moose Federation closed up shop in November, Kenai Peninsula charities and organizations have had to get roadkill moose off the highway and into freezers themselves.

It’s been a challenge without AMF’s fleet of trucks and volunteers. And charities say they’ve struggled to get meat to the families and individuals on their lists.

Now, Alaska Wildlife Troopers are looking for small teams of volunteers to sign up online for their roadkill lists.

Courtesy Kathy Romain, Kenai Senior Center

Local senior centers are starting to open back up after over a year without in-person meals and activities. And they’re seeing a lot of new faces.

“One thing that COVID did bring out is that there are people in our community that need help," said Kathy Romain, director of the Kenai Senior Center. “There are people in our community we didn't reach. And COVID brought a lot of those folks out.”

Salmonfest

Salmonfest is back this summer. The Ninilchik festival is scheduled for Aug. 6 through 8, following a year haitus due to COVID-19.

David Stearns is the assistant director for Salmonfest. He says people who want to camp onsite at the festival should book their tickets now.

Courtesy of Brenda Ballou

It’s official: Seward swimmer Lydia Jacoby is headed to the Olympics.

Jacoby came in second in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, N.E., last week. But her spot on the U.S. Women’s Olympic swim team wasn’t solidified until this weekend.

NOAA

Those who live close to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers know belugas sometimes feed there. But it’s been a mystery how many whales actually travel through those waterways, particularly in the spring.

This year, a large team of volunteer observers counted for the first time how many Cook Inlet belugas passed through the rivers between March and May. They counted just over 220 belugas.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Kenai River is the most popular river for sport fishing in Alaska.

It’s a great thing for the hundreds of thousands of anglers who flock to the peninsula each year, and the companies that benefit from their business. But increased development along the river can also threaten salmon habitat. 

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