United States Forest Service

Mitch Michaud

You might see smoke coming from parts of the Chugach National Forest this week and next.

But it’s no cause for alarm. The Forest Service said it’s burning slash piles in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass, partly in an effort to mitigate the local spruce bark beetle problem.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Hydraulic mining during Hope’s gold rush brought the town riches and residents.

But local marine life was not so fortunate. Mining activity fundamentally changed the shape and flow of Resurrection Creek, destroying habitat for its many types of salmon.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.

The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.

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

When U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowksi came to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce this week, she was excited to talk about legislation she said has flown under the radar in this busy year.

“We passed what is probably the most consequential measure when it comes to how we deal with the deferred maintenance on our public lands," she said. "This is the Great American Outdoors Act.”

U.S. Forest Service

High up in the mountains of the Chugach and Tongass forests, there are over 50 radio communication sites. The U.S. Forest Service uses them to send radio communications from one side of the mountains to the other, and back to the service dispatch in Anchorage. 

The sites are important to the service all year long, said Alaska Region Radio Manager Stacy Griffith.

Courtesy of Mike Amos

Electronic bikes — or e-bikes — occupy a sort of purgatory when it comes to outdoor recreation — not motorcycles but not really traditional bicycles, either.

Their place on trails is also in the gray zone. Several federal agencies classify pedal-assist e-bikes within the “bicycle” category, so they’re permitted where bikes are allowed. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, allows both bikes and e-bikes on roads and the new multi-use trail in Soldotna, while prohibiting both on all other trails. The Kenai Fjords National Park, under the National Park Service, functions similarly.

Here on the peninsula, pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed on Tsalteshi Trails, in Soldotna. In Anchorage, they’re permitted on all bike paths as of 2016.

U.S. Forest Service

Most of the Kenai Peninsula, and most of Southcentral Alaska, is covered by what’s called boreal forest. The forests are dominated by birch, cottonwood, alder and spruce, as well as a handful of other species. That's not a huge amount of biodiversity but boreal forests are home to several different kinds of spruce trees.

On the western peninsula, it’s mostly black spruce, which are the spindly, Nightmare Before Christmas-esque conifer trees growing in wetlands. But white spruce also grow in the Kenai-Soldotna area.