The city of Kenai harbor commission is looking into creating calmer waters come fishing season. Commission members lobbied the city council to create a no wake zone near the mouth of the Kenai river, both for safety and to help mitigate potential erosion during high tides.
Commission member Mike Dunn says from the right vantage point on the right day, you can see the erosion happening in real time.
“You want to be the first one to the cannery to unload, otherwise you’re going to be waiting. I get that. Some of them will hang back and some of them will stay, actually, away from the bank and they’ll go out in the middle as much as they can at certain times. It depends. If it’s high tide and the wakes are hitting the bluff, it’s eroding it away. You can watch, just like the upper river above the cannery.”
The city has had established no wake zones in the past. The issue is keeping signs or other markers out on the water year after year to remind boaters, big and small, of the rules. While erosion is one concern, Dunn says safety is the bigger one, as the size of the boats near the mouth of the river can vary widely. The commission has proposed a no wake zone from the mouth to the city dock.
“For the three weeks we have the dipnetters out there, it’s a safety issue for those people. Living right there, I watch this whole thing and it’s entertaining at times but it’s frustrating at times, too. A lot of the fishermen, you’ll see, they will slow down when they come in, but some of them, you know, we’ve got a certain percentage of our public is ornery. That’s the way humans are. We get that.”
City manager Paul Ostrander will be working with the commission to come up with some formal recommendations, which will also include information on the city’s dipnet app and at the dock, but he does have some concerns about how easy it will be for the drift fleet to hang out in the water without making waves.
“I’m not 100 percent certain that they can maintain a no wake. I think they’re going to have to exceed that at times. I think the intent of the commission and everyone is that people minimize their speed when they’re moving in and out of the river, that they’re respectful to others and minimize the erosion in the river. I do think the idea of educating the drift fleet about the potential impacts is really useful.”
The harbor commission will bring some refined recommendations after its next meeting, which took place April 9th.