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Kenai Watershed Forum

There’s a footrace just about every week on the Kenai Peninsula in the summer, from the Pink Cheeks Triathlon in Seward in early May to the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi to the Kenai River Marathon in September. It’s pretty easy to get into running—all you really need is a pair of shoes. But keeping at it, or being willing to run alone, can make it more challenging.

A new running club in Soldotna is hoping to address some of those challenges. The Kenai Running Club meets at Skyview Middle School every Saturday at 8 a.m., with runners of all levels welcome.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Soldotna Rotary is celebrating a decade of beer. It’s holding its 10th annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival next month, with lots of familiar craft brew faces — from Kenai River Brewing, Kassik's and St. Elias on the central peninsula, to Cooper Landing Brewery and Palmer’s Bleeding Heart.

Matthew Pyhala with Soldotna Rotary helped get the beer festival started.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

When you start laying out the expenses line by line, a weekend of dipnetting doesn’t sound so cheap.

How much does it cost Kelly and Larry Williams?

“A ton! I was just thinking about that," said Kelly Williams. "We’ve spent, like, hundreds of dollars already and we haven’t gotten anything."


Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments. 

Cooper Landing has a long history as a trapping area — besides mining, it was one of the reasons people settled there in the first place. But in recent years, it’s also become a major recreation destination. Trails verge off into the mountains all around the town, and hikers, runners, skiers and bikers like to hit the trails year-round. Many of them also love to bring their dogs along.

Choosing Our Roots

An Alaska nonprofit is looking for hosts on the Kenai Peninsula to house homeless queer youth.

Choosing Our Roots matches volunteers with LGBTQ+ individuals between ages 13 and 24 who otherwise don’t have access to safe housing. The organization is now looking for hosts for six young people on the Kenai Peninsula who are either houseless or couch surfing, said Kat Banner, a volunteer coordinator for the organization.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Besides the urban centers in Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Seward, most people on the Kenai Peninsula live pretty close to areas that could be vulnerable to wildfire. The borough is looking to update a plan on how to help reduce risk and deal with fire when it breaks out.Next week, the borough administration will be hosting open houses and informational meetings across the peninsula to get feedback on the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, or CWPP.

You don't have to know a lot about fishing to know that dipnet season is back in Kenai.

But if you do want to learn more about the fishing that makes the city a summer destination for AK anglers, we've got you covered. This week's Kenai Converstaion is a 2020 online presentation from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on the basics of dipnetting, from what to bring to how to avoid a ticket.

In the second part of the presentation, how to navigate the personal use fisheries in the Kenai, Kasilof and China Poot fisheries.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Critical race theory was not on the agenda of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District board meeting Monday night, or the meeting before it. But it’s been coming up at those meetings anyway, as parents share concerns that their kids are being indoctrinated with a progressive agenda.

Meanwhile, the district said it doesn’t plan on teaching critical race theory at all.

Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

Geologists have been warning Alaskans for over a year about a tsunami that could hit Whittier following a potential landslide at Barry Arm in Prince William Sound.

They’re still ringing the alarm bells. But now, armed with more information about the area, they’re saying that wave will be a lot smaller than they originally expected.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Weather-wise, it has been a dreary summer. If you’re a peony farmer like Wayne Floyd, that’s not really a bad thing.

“They’re at stage one," he said, gesturing to a bunch of peony buds. "They’re hard as golf balls. We sometimes call them ‘golf balls on a stick.’”


Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Commercial fishing is underway across Upper Cook Inlet. Some fishermen to the north of Kenai have had their nets in the water since May, but permit holders in the setnet and drift gillnet fisheries are just getting into the heat of the season as the Kenai and Kasilof sockeye runs pick up. That’s where the majority of the harvest is.

A lot of schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are in the borough's cities, connected to most of the peninsula through the road system.

But others are more remote, accessible only by plane or boat. And it can be hard for students in those communities to access the same opportunities as others.

The Kenai Art Center was closed for about a year when the pandemic broke out, leaving local artists with yet another loss in gallery space. This July, the center in Old Town Kenai reopened to the public, kicking off with a massive pottery show and renovations complete.

Kenai Art Center Executive Director Alex Rydlinski, board president Marion Nelson and Kenai Potters Guild President Debbie Adamson joined the Kenai Conversation to talk about the new show, the reopening of the building and the new name of the Kenai Art Center (formerly the Kenai Fine Art Center).

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Go to most libraries in Alaska and you can ask for just about any book, movie or magazine. And 99 percent of the time, it’ll get to you, said Rachel Nash, librarian at the Soldotna Public Library.

“This system allows us to say yes every time," she said.

That system is the Alaska Library Catalog. Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $635,900 in funding for the program and others as part of a slew of budget vetos earlier this month.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Every new challenge is just another problem to be solved—according to Abby Ala, anyway.

"It keeps life interesting," she said. "If you have problems, you always have something to work on, that’s always there to be worked on."

Photo: KTOO file photo

Eight Alaska lawmakers are meeting this month to talk through big-picture fiscal issues that have stumped Legislatures for years. 

The Comprehensive Fiscal Plan Working Group is bringing together lawmakers from each of the four caucuses to create recommendations on the state’s budget problems. The plan is to bring those recommendations to the broader Legislature ahead of the Aug. 2 special session in Juneau. 


Sabine Poux/KDLL

Triumvirate Theatre has been without a home since its Nikiski facility burned down this February. 

Now, the operation’s moving to Kenai. The Kenai City Council approved a land donation for the nonprofit this week.

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.

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