It’s about to get a whole lot more crowded here on the central Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai’s late run of red salmon is hitting the river, which means thousands of dipnet-wielding Alaskans won’t be far behind.
Indeed, the personal-use dipnet fishery at the mouth of the Kenai River opened Thursday — the Kasilof dipnet fishery opened June 25 — and from now until the end of the month, it will seem like every other vehicle on the road will have a dipnet strapped to the roof.
For those of us who call the central Peninsula home, the next three weeks will be an exercise in patience. A quick trip into town won’t be so quick. There will be lines at the grocery store and waits for tables at local restaurants. And when the fish counts spike, expect traffic jams at the fishery access points along Bridge Access Road, Cannery Road and Spruce Street.
With that in mind, we’d like to make a deal with all those folks flocking to our beaches: We’ll do our best to be patient hosts, but in return, we’d ask for our visitors to keep in mind that to access the resource, you’re traipsing through somebody’s back yard — for the most part figuratively, but sometime literally.
Over the years, the city of Kenai has done a remarkable job in managing the circus around the personal-use fishery, from providing porta-potties and Dumpsters to upgraded parking areas to dune protection projects. We’d ask fishery participants to cooperate with city personnel and use the facilities provided. Please avoid tramping across private property, and treat the beach like the public space that it is.
While there are always things that can be improved upon, by many accounts, last year’s personal-use fishery was well managed and went as smoothly as can be expected. A little patience and respect will go a long way toward making sure this year is more of the same.