Anglers try their luck for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River near the Russian River confluence in this June 2016 photo on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. As anglers head for the Kenai Peninsula, they’ll see Stream Watch volunteers on the banks, educating the public on ways to preserve the river bank and prevent bear encounters. (Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Stream Watch expands to Anchor River

Stream Watch, a volunteer river-stewardship program on the Kenai Peninsula, is expanding its program to the Anchor River this year.

The expansion is funded by a grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Two volunteer coordinators were hired to work at the new expansion, which includes Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River.

Stream Watch promotes river stewardship and fishery education on the peninsula. The coordinators and volunteers seek to educate the public on all things involving the watershed, including fishing regulations and bear safety. The program began in 1994 with the Chugach National Forest and a group of 10 concerned anglers as a response to degradation and erosion of fisheries on the peninsula, at first focusing on fishery at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers. The Kenai Watershed Forum partnered with the program in 2011 and worked to expand the program downriver to the Kenai and Soldotna area. The program includes some work on the Kasilof River as well.

“People were stomping around in their Xtra-Tuffs along the riverbank, stepping on the plants. The river was being loved to death,” said Alice Main, Stream Watch volunteer coordinator at Kenai Watershed Forum.

Volunteers who work with Stream Watch are known as Stream Watch ambassadors and are outfitted with training and supplies, and even campsites that help support projects and education for the organization. Volunteers must be 16 years or older, are required to attend an orientation and must volunteer a minimum of 24 hours between June through September. The first orientation of the summer was June 2, but another one will be announced later this month on Stream Watch’s Facebook page.

The Stream Watch volunteers have multiple stewardship projects this summer, including a fencing project at Moose Range Meadows east of Soldotna on June 17 and beach clean-ups throughout the summer with the Youth Conservation Corps at the mouth of the Kasilof River.

More than 180 volunteers work on stewardship projects for Stream Watch at the Kasilof, Kenai and Russian Rivers, and now the Anchor River.

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