The new executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association holds the water close to her heart.
Shannon Martin, who was named director last month, said she grew up fishing in Southcentral Alaska. She was born in Soldotna and lived there until she was 8 years old, before her family moved to Anchorage. Martin spent years in Anchorage, where she met her husband and started a family.
“Almost every weekend, we were coming down to the peninsula to go camping and fishing, so we decided to go ahead and just move here to be closer to the river,” she said.
The couple even honeymooned on the Russian River in 2007.
“I’m pretty passionate about fishing, just being an Alaskan,” Martin said. “A lot of us grew up on a boat or near the ocean. I just really enjoy being out there.”
Martin was KRSA’s office and events manager for three years until she took on the director role in February. She said she wanted to work for the organization to uphold its values.
“I was really drawn to KRSA’s mission: that they give back to the community, they give back to the river through habitat projects and angler access and advocacy for sport fishing rights.”
Martin said one of the most notable projects she’s spearheaded during her time at the association has been the Kenai River Classic — a three-day invitational fishing event held each August. According to the KRSA website, the derby has raised more than $18 million for habitat restoration projects over 25 years.
“It’s important for people to experience the Kenai River firsthand,” Martin said. “It is the most access(ible) sport fishing river in Alaska. And because of that, we need to make sure that we are accessing it responsibly.”
Looking ahead, Martin said she’s excited for additional programming. One project on the docket for this summer is the Drift Boat Regatta — a drift boat race in Cooper Landing followed by river cleanup.
“This will be KRSA’s first year getting involved with that event,” Martin said. “We’re really excited about building it up and having a lot of people participate in the cleanup aspect.”
Martin said she wants to continue with community outreach.
“(Goals include) to continue to engage the community and get as many people involved with taking care of the river and being an advocate for sport fishing, access and rights,” she said.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.