Recreational Angler Access Projects
The Sportsman's Access Site is located on the Kenai River across from the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers and provides access to popular recreational fisheries targeting sockeye (red) and coho (silver) salmon, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. The site is easily reached via the Sterling Highway (mile 55).
The property was first developed in 1947 as a commercial lodge and operated as such until 1988. The Division of Sport Fish acquired the four-acre site in 1992 under Federal Aid Project F-13-L-23. The site was then leased to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as an adjunct facility of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The purpose of the Sportsman's Access Site is to provide a boat launch into the Kenai River and overflow parking for anglers using the adjacent Russian River Ferry. This project constructed the facilities needed to fulfill that purpose.
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Purposes to improve boating and angler access to the Russian and Kenai Rivers by:
- Renovating the existing boat launch ramp
- Reconfiguring the existing parking areas, roads and pedestrian walkways so site users could move safely and efficiently through the site
- Constructing public toilets and a potable water system, and
- Implementing habitat restoration projects required to obtain project permits.
Construction work on the site started in the fall of 1998 and the majority of it was completed the following spring. The boat launch ramp was a new design that used articulated concrete in place of the traditional concrete planks. (Articulated concrete is a fancy way of saying concrete blocks held together with a grid of steel cables.) Open cell paver blocks were used along each side of the ramp to provide make-ready and haul out areas. Only non-motorized boats are allowed in this portion of the Kenai river and this design works very well for the lightweight drift boats and inflatables that are used.
The 1999 and 2000 boating seasons saw unusually low water levels in the Kenai River. As a result, the lower edge of the pavers was exposed and subjected to excessive loading from foot traffic and boats. Not being designed for this, many of the pavers were dislodged leaving an erosion problem. In the fall of 2001, a small contract was let to install a band of articulated concrete mat along the toe of the pavers in order to fix the problem.