Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Even with recent snowfall, the Swan Lake fire will likely continue to smolder through the winter. On this week’s Kenai Conversation, we speak with fire managers from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and state Division of Forestry about how the fire was managed, how it’s being monitored during the winter, and what lessons were learned during the main event this summer. 

Department of Natural Resources

Ice skaters and ice fishermen had a brief chance to get out on area lakes this week. But if you missed that window, you might be hanging your skates back up again for a while.

Temperatures dipped into the teens and single digits this past week or the first time this winter, and ARC Lake in Soldotna had a crowd of skaters Tuesday. But with the forecast calling for snow Wednesday, followed by warming and rain on Thanksgiving, don’t expect the ice to stay nice for long.

Leah Eskelin is a ranger with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. She recommends being cautious if you’re hoping to get out on a lake over the holiday weekend.

        After a summer of fire closures, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is opening up personal use firewood collection starting on Tuesday.

Woodcutting will be permitting along Swan Lake, Swanson River and Funny River roads, within the Dolly Varden Campground, and the unburned areas within the Upper and Lower Skilak campgrounds.

All harvesting is limited to dead and downed trees within the designated areas, and no standing trees, dead or alive may be felled. No off-roading or ATVs are allowed.

With the reduced fire danger and winding down of fire operations, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has re-opened several more recreational facilities previously closed due to the Swan Lake Fire. The Vista Trail, Doroshin Bay Cabin, Hidden Lake and Hidden Lake Campground are open, as is the East Fork Moose River.
    The designated closure area originally established around the fire is also being reduced to the perimeter of the Swan Lake Fire as it was on Sept. 30.

Jade Gamble/Kenai Peninsula Borough


The Swan Lake fire on the Kenai Peninsula continues to delay traffic, with hours-long stops on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. A new management team is set to be in place Wednesday.