A sign indicates the turn for Jims’ Landing on Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 13, 2021 near Skilak Lake on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign indicates the turn for Jims’ Landing on Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 13, 2021 near Skilak Lake on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Input on environmental impact of Jims’ Landing improvements due Saturday

The boat launch is located in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, near Milepost 58 of the Sterling Highway.

Public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment for improvements to Jims’ Landing in Skilak are due on Saturday. That draft assessment concluded that the area around Jims’ Landing stands to be negatively impacted if existing infrastructure and facilities are expanded, but that the impacts would be insignificant if proper mitigation measures are followed.

The assessment looks at the potential impacts different kinds of improvements would have on the environment at Jims’ Landing, off Skilak Loop Road. Implementing some or all of the proposed improvements, project leads say, would improve safety and access for the estimated 42,000 people who use the boat ramp each year.

The boat launch is located in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, near Milepost 58 of the Sterling Highway. The project aims to improve boat ramp conditions and pedestrian and vehicle safety, as well as provide more parking capacity for vehicles with and without trailers. The project would also provide an off-site parking area on the south side of the Sterling Highway.

Project alternatives considered in the draft Environmental Assessment include Alternative A, “no action,” Alternative B, limited improvements, and Alternative C, comprehensive improvements. No action means Jims’ Landing would be left as-is. Alternative B would provide for limited improvements at the site targeted toward public safety at the boat ramp and off-site parking. Alternative C would include comprehensive improvements that address safety at the boat ramp, access, bank erosion and off-site parking.

The draft Environmental Assessment identifies Alternative C as the preferred alternative.

“The goal of Alternative C is to improve public safety and recreation experience of the Jims’ Landing facility by increasing parking capacity, improving traffic circulation and boat ramp safety while minimizing impacts to vegetation, wetlands, riparian habitat and floodplains,” the draft assessment says.

Among the impacts to wildlife and fish species under Alternative C would be increased disturbance to wildlife human activities, changes in wildlife activity patterns as a result of those disturbances, a loss of up to 3.2 acres of habitat through the expansion of the existing footprint of Jims’ Landing. The installation of root wads for bank stabilization would benefit fish by providing habitat, according to the assessment.

Project leads held a virtual public review and comment meeting on the project last month via Zoom, where they clarified that there is no plan to start charging people to retrieve their boat at the landing, that under the preferred alternative the size of the boat launch would be replaced with ACB mat and that the island of trees on the launch would be removed.

A general consensus among those who attended a virtual public comment meeting held last month was that Alternative C was the preferred build option with Off-site Parking Option 1.

Off-site Parking Option 1 would see the creation of an angled trailer parking lot near the entrance of Jims’ Landing Access Road, as well as an elevated pedestrian walkway from the parking lot to the landing. Off-site Parking Option 2 would create an angled trailer parking lot on the opposite side of Skilak Lake from Jims’ Landing.

The draft Environmental Assessment will be available from May 5 to June 19 and can be found at fws.gov/refuge/kenai. Public comments will be accepted during the same time period. Written comments can be submitted to PND Engineers, Inc. at 1506 W 36th Ave., Anchorage, AK, 99503 or via email at jimslanding@pndengineers.com.

More information on the Jims’ Landing Boat Launch Access and Parking Improvements can be found at usfws-jims.blogspot.com.

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

More in News

Sarah Knapp / Homer News
The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m.
Mag 8.2 earthquake rattles Gulf Coast, triggers tsunami warning

Lara Hildreth and Cindy Buchanan never expected their vacation would end in… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘An investment in our country’

Murkowski details implications of infrastructure deal for Alaska

Stephanie Queen speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna mulls return of COVID mitigation protocols at city facilities

The council ultimately recommended mask wearing among city employees while working indoors

Central Peninsula Hospital Pharmacy Technician Jessica Hulet rolls a cart carrying doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine into Central Peninsula Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 16 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Hospitals busier and busier amid COVID spike

Close to 70% of Alaska’s hospital beds are full amid another surge… Continue reading

A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Local briefs: Jacoby may swim again, ‘Little Mermaid’ and a final rodeo

Jacoby may race in relay medleys The Seward Tsunami Swim Club has… Continue reading

The Alaska SeaLife Center in downtown Seward is seen on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Habor seal pup admitted to Alaska SeaLife Center

The seal was found on a beach near the center

The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m. (Photo by Sarah Knapp)
UPDATE: Peninsula given all clear following earthquake, tsunami warning

An 8.2 magnitude earthquake Wednesday night spurred tsunami evacuations for coastal communities

Photo provided by River City Books 
River City Books is marked with anti-masking graffiti on Wednesday.
Anti-masking graffiti found at River City Books

River City Books was defaced with anti-mask and anti-COVID-19 vaccine rhetoric after… Continue reading

A new sign welcoming people to the City of Soldotna is photographed on May 1, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to auction off surplus goods

The City of Soldotna will auction off surplus city goods, vehicles and… Continue reading

Most Read