The Kenai River Sportfishing Association offices in Soldotna, Alaska, are seen on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association offices in Soldotna, Alaska, are seen on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

KRSA debuts community-wide river cleanup

For years, the organization has hosted the Kid’s Kenai River Clean-Up but muddy conditions led to that event’s cancellation this year

To get the Kenai River ready for another busy year, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association is hosting the Kenai River Spring Clean-Up from Friday until May 15. The association is distributing cleanup kits, and helping with disposal of recovered trash — with prizes for participants.

For years, KRSA has hosted the Kid’s Kenai River Clean-Up, but Executive Director Shannon Martin said Tuesday that this year’s snowfall — and muddy conditions on the trails — led to that event’s cancellation this year.

Martin said historically up to 500 students each year have participated in the Kid’s event — cleaning up 18,000 pounds of trash over nine years of the activity.

Canceling the children’s event, Martin said, is disappointing, but they’ve got high hopes for the new community model.

“It’s important for us to clean up that area while the water level is low in the springtime,” she said. “That’s where you’ll typically see snagged fishing line, weights, lures, water bottles, plastic bags — when the water level rises, that’s fish habitat.”

Cleanup kits, which include instructions, a ticket to enter for drawings, and a bag for collecting trash, can be picked up either at the KRSA offices by Sweeney’s in Soldotna or at their booth at the Kenai Peninsula Sport, Rec & Trade Show this weekend.

The instructions include tips for collecting trash, and direct participants to a variety of key access points for the Kenai River where trash is likely to be found. These include Soldotna Creek Park, Rotary Park, Centennial Campground, Eagle Rock, Kenai River Center, Izaak Walton, Swiftwater Campground and Bing’s Landing.

Each of these locations need attention, Martin said, especially the highest traffic areas like the parks. She pointed to the Kenai River Center down Funny River Road as a site that is maybe a little less well known — but which has a free sport fishing access location and “gets hit pretty hard” in the summer.

While the focus is on cleaning up fish habitats and angler access points, Martin said everyone benefits from a cleaner river — pointing to the boardwalk from the Soldotna Visitor Center to Centennial Park as a common site for recreation.

“It’s a good thing for folks to get out, be good stewards of our resource and take care of our environment,” she said. “We need to make sure that when the fish return year over year they have a safe home.”

Trash collected can either be brought to a dumpster at KRSA, or to the landfill. A “bag tag” can be returned to a mailbox at KRSA to be entered for drawing prizes, and to record the number of pounds collected. Those prizes include a variety of hats, shirts, bags, fishing rods and other “fun items.”

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