This evening there’s a party in Anchor Point. The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) is hosting “Take Me to the River,” a free public celebration of progress in preserving the Anchor River.
The event, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Coho Campground of the Anchor River State Recreation Area, combines food, fun and information for all ages. This family-friendly gathering will happen, rain or shine, thanks to the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, which will provide a tent if needed.
“We have not done this before. We may do it again sometime in the future,” said Denise Jantz, the development coordinator for the land trust. “It’s really to celebrate the work that’s being done on the Anchor River.”
The date of the event was chosen to fall between the main salmon runs, organizers said.
Speakers will talk about the new Anchor River Salmon Conservation Area, the role of the river, pertinent science and area partnerships to preserve its productive ecosystems. KHLT Conservation Director Mandy Bernard will talk about the land trust’s collaboration with Cook Inletkeeper and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve to identify and purchase critical salmon habitat. Representatives of those organizations will describe their work in more detail.
One of the scheduled speakers is Lynn Whitmore, who has lived by the river for 38 years. A self-described “fishing idiot,” he plans to talk about what the river means to him. He got involved with wildlife habitat in the area and that work led him to the land trust. “I really respect what they do,” he said.
Over the years he has seen many changes along the Anchor, as fish runs wax and wane and state fishing regulations come and go. He noted that weak king salmon runs in recent years led to lower real-estate prices and fewer tourists in restaurants and stores. This year, with the run picking up, things are better.
“It dries up pretty fast when there are no kings,” he said of the Anchor Point economy. “It’s tied to the river.”
Over the past 10 years, the land trust has dedicated a lot of effort to the Anchor River. Using Cook Inletkeeper’s thermal imagery, which mapped cold spots in the river, KHLT worked to protect adjacent land. Protecting these places is important because salmon thrive in cold water, and peninsula rivers are getting warmer.
Working together with other organizations, community members and private landowners, KHLT has purchased 38 acres of critical salmon habitat along the Anchor River.
While adults discuss such weighty matters, children can check out live little river critters. Biologists from the research reserve will bring baby fish and educator Carmen Field will show youngsters what fish eat. The young fish eat aquatic macro-invertebrates, also known as bugs in the water.
Things people eat will also be handy. The land trust is hosting a barbecue.
Live music is also part of the party mix. Howlin’ Whales from Homer, with members James Howe, Gus Beck, Oceana Wills, Jazz Multz, Max Doyle and Kelsey Hardy-Place, will play.
Financing for the event was provided by KHLT, Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness and Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware.
The land trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1989.
Its mission is to conserve the natural heritage of the Kenai Peninsula for future generations, and its focus is on protecting critical fish, bird, wildlife habitat and recreational lands. So far, KHLT has protected more than 3,200 acres on the Kenai Peninsula.
Kachemak Heritage Land Trust presents
Take Me to the River
Anchor River Celebration
Coho Campground, Anchor River State Recreation Area
6 p.m., Thursday, July 9
A family-friendly festival with a barbecue, live music, hands-on nature activities for children and speakers about river research and conservation.
KHLT, Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware