Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Kenai/Prince William Sound Superintendent Jack Blackwell presents an update on the Kasilof River Drift Boat Retrieval project at the Gilman River Center on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Kenai/Prince William Sound Superintendent Jack Blackwell presents an update on the Kasilof River Drift Boat Retrieval project at the Gilman River Center on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Construction of Kasilof boat retrieval to begin this summer

Efforts to build a public takeout facility on the lower Kasilof River began in 2011

Construction of a contentious boat takeout on the lower Kasilof River is expected to begin this summer, state officials said Tuesday.

More than 30 people packed into the Donald E. Gilman River Center on Tuesday for an update on the Kasilof River Drift Boat Retrieval project, which would create the takeout. The update was presented by Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Kenai/Prince William Sound Superintendent Jack Blackwell.

Efforts to build a public takeout facility on the lower Kasilof River began in 2011, when the Alaska Legislature appropriated $2 million for the project. After the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ project team evaluated and ranked eight possible locations for the facilities, a parcel known as the “Trujillo” property scored the highest.

The project aims to construct a public boat takeout on the lower portion of the Kasilof River, downstream of the Kasilof River State Recreation Site boat launch. A site plan provided to attendees Tuesday shows room for 47 angled truck and trailer parking spaces, 12 vehicle parking spaces, restrooms, trails and the retention of an existing host cabin and cabin trail.

Those who support a public takeout on the river say a state facility would be safer for boaters and complement the existing boat launch upriver, while those opposed say the resulting traffic will disrupt nearby residents.

Though a top concern voiced by attendees Tuesday was about the location of the takeout facilities, Blackwell said the site has already been determined. The State of Alaska acquired in 2015 the two parcels of land that received the highest score on the state’s ranked parcel lists.

“The location for the drift boat retrieval has been determined,” Blackwell said Monday. “We’re not here to debate whether or not this is a good location … that decision’s been made during the public process.

The top scoring parcel on the state’s list was previously owned by Jim Trujillo, who operated a private boat takeout on the property until selling the land to the state in 2015. That property is located at River Mile 3.75 of the Kasilof River.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in November defeated a resolution stating the body’s support for privately owned takeouts on the lower Kasilof River. Assembly President Brent Johnson, who sponsored the legislation, said a public takeout facility would compete with private takeout facilities in the area, such as those owned by Steve and Jeanne Maltby.

Per the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the project is in design phase, with construction expected to occur during the 2023 and 2024 summer construction seasons.

More information about the Old Kasilof Landing project can be found on the Alaska Department of Natural resources website at dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/kasilof/kasilofboatretrieval.htm.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Kenai/Prince William Sound Superintendent Jack Blackwell fields questions about the Kasilof River Drift Boat Retrieval project at the Gilman River Center on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Kenai/Prince William Sound Superintendent Jack Blackwell fields questions about the Kasilof River Drift Boat Retrieval project at the Gilman River Center on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

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