The banks of the Kenai River can be seen on July 14, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

The banks of the Kenai River can be seen on July 14, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Streambank project cost-share program accepting applications

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is accepting applications for the program through 5 p.m. on Sept. 30

A state program that will help you pay for projects along Kenai Peninsula streambanks is currently accepting applications. The Kenai Peninsula Habitat Rehabilitation & Protection Cost-Share program — jointly administered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — aims to enhance salmon habitat in peninsula watersheds.

The program makes available to project directors and private landowners funding and technical project design assistance for applicable projects. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is accepting applications for the program through 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.

According to Fish and Game, the program funds “proven bioengineering techniques” that include coir logs, willow plantings, cabled spruce trees, root wads and elevated light-penetrating walkways. More than 500 shoreline rehabilitation projects have been completed through the program since 1995, when it was launched.

“​​This has included removing over 4,000 feet of structures that were detrimental to juvenile salmon, sustaining fish habitat on over nine miles of shoreline and rehabilitating over three miles of shoreline,” a state website on the program says.

Geoff Benedetti participated in the cost-share program last year. He lives in Anchorage, but owns a property along the Kenai River in the Funny River area. Benedetti said he and his wife bought the land because of the fishing opportunities and, for them, stabilizing the bank was a worthy investment.

“We didn’t mind investing in the bank. Plus it’s good for the habitats, good for the fish and preventing the erosion and stuff, so it just seemed like a good thing to do right from the get go,” Benedetti said.

He said he didn’t know a lot about the best way to stabilize the bank when he applied for the program, but that the state provided recommendations and offered support throughout the process. Root wads, for example, were brought in to his property, as were trees and logs anchored with rebar. A light penetrating walkway was installed to provide better access to their dock.

Benedetti said he gained back “a few feet of land” through the rehabilitation work and said the bank on his property is now straighter and sturdier than it was before.

“The alders and the willows have just done fantastic,” Benedettis said. “They’re just growing like crazy, and so we’re happy about that.”

In all, about $36,000 worth of work was done to Benedetti’s property, about $18,000 of which — 50% — the State of Alaska paid for through the program. He was responsible for the total cost up front and the state reimbursed him. Firms local to the central peninsula were brought on to complete the work.

Benedetti said without the state’s cost-share program, he wouldn’t have been able to get the work done.

“It was worth it for us to, I mean, that’s why we bought it, is for the river access and for the fishing,” Benedetti said. “We wanted to protect the bank, so it just seemed like the best course of action to do that right up front before we did much else to the property.”

Additional information about the program can be found on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website at adfg.alaska.gov.

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

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