Refuge Discovery Trip Report by Poppy Benson
On the stunning, golden weekend of September 7, 14 Friends and 3 friends of Friends took part in the Kenai River Clean-up sponsored by the Alaska Fly Fishers , the Kenai Watershed Forum and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. About 60 people in all helped in the effort to clean beaches and roadsides around the Russian River Ferry. The Friends concentrated on Refuge beaches as everything downstream from the ferry is in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We floated the river in two refuge rafts and a drift boat manned by Kenai Refuge staff. Along the way, particularly on the “combat fishing” beaches across from the ferry, we picked up loads of monofilament line, sinkers and hooks, all potentially deadly to wildlife and all likely to be swept downstream into the refuge.
Being on the river in such beautiful weather would have been reward enough but the Alaska Flyfishers know how to have fun. There was free food all day, door prizes, and three blue grass bands playing in the evening. We all camped right at the Russian River ferry where events centered around a big event tent with great silver salmon fishing right on our doorstep. On Sunday, we sponsored a hike on the Refuge’s Hidden Creek trail which leads to a sunny beach on Skilak Lake. We couldn’t keep our hands off of the high bush and low bush cranberries that lined the trail and several of us came home with bags full. And if all this wasn’t good enough, we recruited three new members, got an offer to speak at an Alaska Flyfishers meeting and bonded with Refuge staff members and our fellow Friends from Homer, Soldotna, Sterling and Anchorage. The Alaska Flyfishers want us to be a full partner next year and I think this should an annual event.