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.
The state has owned property on the Lower Kasilof River for a number of years, on what used to be known as the Trujillo and Kimbrough property. The property is now known as the Old Kasilof Landing.
The Kasilof River is drift-only down to the mouth, and even there, only 10-horsepower motors or less are allowed. That means anyone who drifts the river has to take out somewhere. Right now, the only place to do that is at the Kasilof River Lodge & Cabins at about mile 2 of the river.
In 2017, the state started gathering public comments a project to improve the property as a formal boat retrieval facility. However, many Kasilof residents objected loudly to the plans, which included a boat ramp rather than just a cable retrieval system.
The concern was that salmon dipnetters would use the ramp to launch rather than just retrieve, bringing more of them south to the Kasilof dipnet fishery in boats. Right now, the only way to fish the Kasilof dipnet from a boat is to launch either straight off the beach or from the Kasilof River bridge, far upriver, and float down. That means most dipnetting in the Kasilof is done from the beaches.
The Kenai River dipnet, on the other hand, has a crowded small boat fishery because most of the dipnetters launch from the city dock, less than a mile upriver from the mouth.
The regulations proposed by State Parks would block anyone from launching a boat into the Kasilof from the Old Kasilof Landing without permission from the parks director, and can only retrieve a boat from there if it is either non-motorized or under power from one motor with 10 horsepower or less.
The regulation is part of a larger package of proposed changes for state parks, including clarifying regulations about anchored buoys in the Kenai River Special Management Area, snowmachine use and limits on camping in undeveloped areas.
The state is asking for public comment on the regulations by email up through 5 p.m. on July 29. The regulations and more information about how to comment can be found on the Alaska State Parks’ website.