Protecting the Kenai River in Alaska

Protecting the Kenai River in Alaska

volunteers eating lunch on the dock
team working by the river

Friday, July 29, 2022 - 11:00am

CONTENT: Article

The Kenai River is an important fishing resource for the people and wildlife in the area. A world-class river in Alaska that runs fast toward the Cook Inlet, it also faces consistent erosion of its banks, which impacts wildlife habitats. To help address this issue, the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF) works to restore healthy watersheds along the banks of rivers and streams of the Kenai Peninsula.

The nonprofit organization relies on volunteers and community partners in its Stream Watch program to help protect riverside plants that habitat for fish and other wildlife. Volunteers from Marathon Petroleum’s Kenai refinery recently installed habitat fences in public fishing areas to prevent damage, such as soil erosion and crushed vegetation.

“We have great ambassadors who volunteer to patrol the river areas and tell others the rules and guidelines that protect our natural resources,” said Environmental Scientist Brandon Drzazgowski with KWF. “It’s great when the team from Marathon comes out, because they work hard and fast and have fun while they do it.”

Drzazgowski coordinates the Stream Watch program for KWF. Since the mid-90s, the volunteer program has worked to educate the community and visitors about the effects of walking and fishing along the banks. High traffic areas suffered crushed vegetation and soil erosion, and mud covered the gravel areas salmon needed for spawning. Through a lot of hard work, research and education, they have seen significant improvements in these areas.

“As part of our commitment to protect the environment, we are doing what we can to preserve the Kenai River,” said Leah Vik, Health, Environmental and Safety Professional at the Kenai refinery. “This is the second year that we have been able to work with Stream Watch, and we enjoy volunteering for this very worthy cause.”

KWF works with the U.S. Forest Service and other local, state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community partners. Marathon Petroleum is proud to partner with KWF to support events like the Kenai River Festival and Stream Watch volunteer activities for the past two years.