Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Kenai, borough look to extract rock for bluff stabilization

In moving hard rock out of Seldovia, the borough could kill a few birds with one stone

The Kenai Peninsula Borough and the City of Kenai have hashed out an agreement that would allow the city to use rock materials taken from borough land near Seldovia to help stabilize the Kenai bluff. The agreement, which will be considered by the borough assembly at its June 21 meeting, is the latest step forward for the Kenai Bluff Stabilization project.

The project, which has been in the works for decades, aims to stabilize roughly 5,000 feet of bluff on the north shore of the Kenai River, starting from the mouth of the river and ending near Pacific Star Seafoods. It emerged as the City of Kenai’s top capital priority heading into the next fiscal year.

The project got a major boost from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who secured $28 million for it through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as from the Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who successfully proposed $6.5 million for the project in the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget.

The bluff is currently receding at a rate of about 3 feet per year. The stabilization plan is to construct a berm at the toe of the bluff, per a recommendation from the Army Corps of Engineers. Documents prepared by the Corps show a berm that would be composed of armor stone, B rock and gravel.

In moving hard rock out of Seldovia, the borough could kill a few birds with one stone.

The rock would be taken from a borough quarry near the Rocky Ridge Landfill, which serves Seldovia, according to the proposed ordinance. That landfill cannot expand currently due to the presence of hard rock. Kenai needs a large amount of hard rock to construct the berm that will help stabilize the city’s eroding bluff.

The borough’s land management division wrote in a May 26 memo to assembly members that accessing hard rock resources in the area would give the borough room to expand the Rocky Ridge Landfill, would produce cover material that could be used to operate the landfill and would generate by-product material that could be processed for local use.

“The scope of hard rock removal needed for the project fits with long-term landfill expansion needs and would provide finer material that is useful for landfill cover and processing into aggregate for local uses,” the proposed ordinance says.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor was authorized to negotiate with the City of Kenai for the materials under a 2009 resolution that specifically allowed for the removal of materials from borough quarries for the bluff project.

Under the agreement up for consideration by the assembly later this month, the City of Kenai would be given access to the quarry at no cost, with the understanding that the work will provide in-kind benefits to the borough.

The ordinance will be up for a public hearing and vote at the assembly’s June 21 meeting.

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

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