Elizabeth Earl

Reporter/evening news host

Elizabeth Earl is the news reporter/evening host for summer 2021 at KDLL. She is a high school teacher, with a background writing for the Peninsula Clarion and has been a freelance contributor to several publications in Alaska.

From space, the Kenai Peninsula looks like it has a lot of water. After all, it’s surrounded by water on three sides, and pockmarked with lakes and two major rivers as well as dozens of smaller ones. So it may come as a surprise to hear the Kenai Peninsula has limited freshwater for consumption.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Veterans in the Soldotna area will have a brand new medical clinic to visit soon.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s municipal election falls on next Tuesday, with candidates running for school board and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, among other local offices.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Wednesday marks the beginning of a distinctly Alaska holiday—a whole week of celebrating chubby ursine creatures. That’s right—it’s Fat Bear Week.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Just from looking at the crowd gathered outside the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center on Sunday morning, you’d have no idea that temperatures were in the twenties. Frost covered the grass, and a large number of people in the crowd were wearing nothing but shorts and light shirts. Granted, though, most of them were about to run at least 13 miles.

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.

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.

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.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Eva Knutson calls some of her boxes “boredom busters.” They look like they’d do the job, with topics like entomology, forensic science, and oceanography. They’re designed with instructions from start to finish, so parents can just unbox them and enjoy them with their kids, even if they don’t know much about entomology themselves.

 

"Everything is kind of spelled out in the materials, so if a parent gets 'entomology' and they don’t know anything about insects, all the printables have facts, all the information, so if a parent wants to teach their kid about spiders and insects, they can," she said. "Even if they don’t know anything about it, they get to be the teacher, which I really like, because I really like tht parents appreciate that."

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Soldotna welcomed back its Progress Days event on Saturday with a bang—or lots of them, depending where along the parade route you were standing.

There were tractors. There were horses. There were dancers. There was a giant copy of the U.S. Constitution. Most importantly to many of the kids along the way, there was plenty of candy. The parade was cancelled last year due to concerns about the coronavirus, but came back this year with gusto, along with vendors and music in Soldotna Creek Park this weekend.

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial setnet fishermen in Cook Inlet had their season cut short last week. When the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Kenai River to sportfishing for king salmon, it closed the east setnet fishery completely. Some of them had only had a handful of openers.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Jason Oles knows a lot about bears. He’s worked among Kodiak brown bears, Rocky Mountain grizzlies, North Slope polar bears, and Kenai Peninsula black bears, on various national parks and wildlife refuges. Now a ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, he says there are definitely a few tricks to living, working, and recreating among bears.

Rashah McChesney/Alaska Energy Desk

The Alaska Industrial Development and Energy Authority, or AIDEA, is a state-owned corporation that focuses on economic projects meant to create jobs and diversify the state’s economy. It uses its own revolving fund to generate loans and fund projects, meaning it doesn’t draw funding out of the state unrestricted general fund, which the Legislature allocates for the budget every year.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Kenai River will close entirely to king salmon fishing starting Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure Monday afternoon after nearly three weeks of watching the late-run king salmon fail to return to the Kenai River in large enough numbers. The lower river started July with a king fishery open to retention, but no bait allowed; the department moved to catch-and-release only, with a note that further action might be necessary. Even with the closure, biologists don’t think the run will make the minimum escapement goal.

A head-on car collision on the Kenai Spur Highway this Saturday killed three people, injured four and closed the highway for some time.

Kenai Police report that a small vehicle was headed south around mile 15 of the Spur and passed another car on the right side at a high speed. The Spur there is only two lane, and people will sometimes pass on the right on the shoulder of the road. Police say the driver of the small car lost control and crossed into the oncoming lane and collided with a pickup truck.

Nikiski Community Council

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking for public comment on a plan to add a community lake in Nikiski to its fish stocking program.

The department announced that it’s considering adding John Hedberg Lake to the stocking program, which would put about 700 catchable rainbow trout in the lake this year and 1,000 fingerlings annually after that. John Hedberg Lake is located in Nikiski Community Park near the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, about mile 23 of the Kenai Spur Highway.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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."

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.


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.

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.

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.

Alaska State Troopers

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

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