Anchor Point meets to discuss river restoration

Anchor Point residents met with leaders of several local environmental agencies at the Anchor Point Senior Center on Monday, May 14 to discuss suggestions to maintain the Anchor River and repair damage to its banks. The environmental agencies called for the meeting with the community in order to gain insight on what would be the best course of action for these restorations as well as to educate themselves on the behavior and history of the river.

Among the environmental leaders present were Kenai Peninsula Stream Watch coordinator Alice Main with the Kenai Watershed Forum, Lauren Rusin and Marie McCarty with the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, and Kyra Wagner and Devony Lehner with the Homer Soil &Water Conservation District. Carol Petraborg from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Ranger Jason Okuly from Alaska State Parks also were present.

Topics discussed at the community meeting included different trail plans and streambank restoration in the Anchor River State Recreation Area; ways the community can get involved in the Kenai Peninsula Stream Watch program and similar programs, and methods that local residents can use to permanently protect their land. Community members attending the meeting also were encouraged to share their history with the river and surrounding lands and to give their perspective on the environmental agencies’ plans to restore the river.

“What affects the landowners, what affects habitat, what affects tourism and economic development — all of those things are going to be considerations with everything that happens on the river,” Wagner said.

Each environmental group explained their purpose to the community and shared news on developments within each agency. The Kenai Watershed Forum, according to Alice Main, recently received funding to expand their Stream Watch program to the Anchor River, the mouth of the Kasilof River, Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River. They also now have funding in place to hire a full-time seasonal volunteer coordinator to work with the Stream Watch Ambassadors, a group that works to educate visitors to local streams and distribute educational materials to the public. Founded in 1994, the Stream Watch program has more than 60 volunteers working in five sites, with the Anchor River being the newest site. According to Main, Stream Watch ambassadors educate more than 4,000 river users per season.

“Another reason for coming here is to also understand better what the issues for this area are and what kind of educational messages we can share with those visitors who might not know (how they are impacting the river) but could change their behavior,” Main said.

For more information on the Kenai Peninsula Stream Watch and Watershed Forum or to learn how to become a volunteer, visit their Facebook page at

According to their website,, the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust has helped to protect over 3,000 acres on the Kenai Peninsula through acquisition of land and conservation easements, including land in the Anchor River region. They are always looking to protect more land in accordance with their mission to conserve natural heritage.

“(The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust) protects habitat, open space, and recreation properties….We directly protect 374 acres right now in the Anchor River Watershed and we have a couple of projects going on right now where we’re looking at properties to purchase along the river,” Rusin said.

After the environmental representatives introduced themselves and their agencies, discussion moved on to the Anchor River itself, facilitated by Kyra Wagner. Wagner described several areas along the Anchor River within the Anchor River State Recreation Area that have experienced recent or lasting damage, including the Silver King Campground Reach, the Coho Campground Reach, and the Picnic Hole Reach.

Along the Silver King Campground, some damage has been caused by flood activity washing out divots in the uplands and along the river banks. Foot traffic from river users has also worn down nearby trails. By the Coho Campground, issues include a lack of vegetation buffer between the river and the uplands, as well as erosion caused by people walking or camping on the river’s edge. Along the Picnic Hole Reach, issues include bank erosion caused by anglers walking down the steep unvegetated stream banks to access the stream, as well as gabion rock causing more erosion further downstream.

Wagner and the other environmental agency representatives then turned to the community members in attendance to hear their thoughts on how to best help the Anchor River. Several people were of the mind that the best course of action would be to close the river to allow it to recover from human interference, but it was also agreed that this course of action would adversely affect Anchor Point’s economy, as it relies largely on the river tourism and fishing industry.

Local residents also brought up their individual concerns regarding the Anchor River and Anchor River State Recreation Area, including the tractor launch parking lot, a walking path located off the Anchor Point beach road, and salmon rearing habitats.

Ranger Jason Okuly weighed in on the discussion regarding the tractor launch. He confirmed that the state has awarded grant money to repair the middle 100 feet of the damaged section of the parking lot, but there were currently no funds available to fix the entire area of damage.

The community discussed the possibility of creating a walking path alongside Anchor Point Road leading to the beach in order to prevent accidents between pedestrians and moving vehicles. Over the years, this has become a major concern for many local residents, and the potential for accidents only grows with increase in traffic on the road.

Salmon rearing habitats are a major concern for the Anchor Point community as well as the environmental agencies that were present, as a lack of salmon rearing habitats means a decrease in fish living in the Anchor River. Lifelong local residents Lynn Whitmore and Steve Walli explained how the Anchor River fish population had changed over the decades, citing Ruby Creek in particular.

“Where the Diamond Creek storage place is now…when I was a kid, there were silver salmon clear up there…at the headwaters of Ruby Creek. There used to be a swamp, and there were silver salmon…[because] it wasn’t all messed up like it is now,” Walli said.

Walli continued on to explain that human interference and the setting of non-fish-friendly culverts in parts of the river adversely affected the fish population and the salmon’s ability to reach their traditional spawning grounds.

“When US Fish and Wildlife did a study on the Anchor River, they said it was an extremely healthy spawning substrate for silvers, for coho and king salmon, but the rearing capacity is a major limiting factor,” Whitmore said. “Speaking to what you just said, I think concentrating on rearing habitats in the Anchor River is going to be a fine thing we can do, because it’s short on that.”

To stay informed about updates regarding the Anchor River, contact the Homer Soil &Water Conservation District at or visit the Anchor River Updates Facebook page at

Anchor Point meets to discuss river restoration