The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Russian River Road and campground to close for 1 year

Construction will limit access to the road and associated recreation.

A popular Kenai Peninsula recreation spot will close next year for construction to rebuild a part of a road and reinforce parts of hillside along the Kenai River, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

From Aug. 1, 2022 to June 1, 2023, the Russian River Campground Road and campground will be closed to the public and campground reservations will be unavailable.

Improvements will focus on widening and rebuilding Russian River Campground Road, which the Forest Service said will make it safer for cars, recreational vehicles and pedestrians. In addition to expanding the existing shoulder of the road, a new guardrail will be put in.

Work will also help reinforce sections of the hillside along the banks of the Kenai River, which the Forestry Service said will make the area less prone to landslides and surface erosion. The Forestry Service said work is scheduled to conclude before the sockeye salmon sport fishing season opens.

“Reducing the long-term threat of erosion and landslides is essential to preserving the water quality for healthy salmon spawning and rearing in the Russian and Kenai Rivers,” a department release said.

The work is expected to affect the multiple recreational activities in the area. Sport fishing access will not be available from the Anglers Trail or the White Trail and the Russian Lakes Trail will not be available from the campground. Additionally, hunting access will not be available from the Russian Lakes Trailhead from the campground, which will impact sport and federal subsistence hunting season for large and small game.

The area’s Barber, Aspen Flats and Upper Russian public use cabins will not be available from the Lower Russian Lakes Trail. The cabins can still be accessed via the Snug Harbor Road, the Upper Russian Lakes Trailhead or by float plane.

“Residents and visitors should be mindful of the upcoming closure when making plans to recreate in the area,” the release said.

The Russian River Campground is located off the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. More information on the upcoming closures can be found at fs.usda.gov/chugach.

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

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