Kenai City Council members convene for their regular meeting at the council chambers on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai City Council members convene for their regular meeting at the council chambers on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai council moves ahead with slash site resolution

Community members could dispose of spruce beetle-infested trees and other vegetation at the site

The Kenai City Council adopted a resolution during its meeting Wednesday to accept a grant from the state to fund spruce bark beetle mitigation and hazard fuel reduction efforts in the city.

The council unanimously voted to accept $50,000 per year for three years from the state Department of Natural Resources to establish a slash disposal site where community members can dispose of spruce beetle-infested trees and other vegetation that increases the risk of fire on private property.

Kenai City Council member Teea Winger vocalized her full support for the resolution during the meeting Wednesday.

“It’s expensive for people to take multiple loads to Soldotna,” she said. “So hopefully this will encourage people to get out and firewise their properties, which I think really was our intent.”

Firewising — safely removing highly flammable materials from a property to reduce potential fire hazard — has been emphasized by officials following the most recent spruce bark beetle infestation.

The beetles kill spruce and sometimes birch trees by feeding and breeding in the thin layer of soft living tissue beneath the spruce bark, called the phloem, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The outbreak had affected at least 1.6 million acres across Alaska from 2016 to 2021. Last year, the Forest Service reported that the infestation was most damaging in the northern Matanuska-Susitna Borough, lower Denali Borough, and around Cooper Landing, Kenai and Soldotna.

Council member James Baisden said he wants to encourage Kenai community members to remain diligent and firewise, even as the resolution was adopted.

“All these efforts that you’re going to see from the government is never going to be enough to fix this problem,” he said. “So in this line of conversation, we need to make sure that everybody out there listening to this is taking the proactive steps to protect their own property.”

Council members also discussed the potential for aid to elderly residents or people with disabilities who may be unable to physically firewise their own properties or use the slash site. As the legislation stands now, there is no solidified prospect of relief for this demographic.

“Right now there’s not an avenue yet on that,” Kenai Fire Department Chief Tony Prior said. “We’re doing the best we can with the funds and the people we can but we can’t deal with everybody’s personal property.”

The public hearing for the resolution will be at the council’s next regular meeting on June 15.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read