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After almost two years of deliberation, a 5,500-foot long fence is being installed to protect the dunes at the mouth of the Kasilof River. The fence, which is a guardrail, will assist in keeping vehicles off the dunes and ensure the conservation of the habitat. 053011 NEWS 1 Peninsula Clarion After almost two years of deliberation, a 5,500-foot long fence is being installed to protect the dunes at the mouth of the Kasilof River. The fence, which is a guardrail, will assist in keeping vehicles off the dunes and ensure the conservation of the habitat.

Photo By M. Scott Moon

Volunteers work Saturday to erect a guardrail alongside a trail on the Cook Inlet beach on the south side of the Kasilof River mouth. The structure is intended to keep motorists out of the dunes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Story last updated at 5/30/2011 - 1:50 pm

Fence goes up along Kasilof dunes: Barrier intended to protect sensitive habitat



After almost two years of deliberation, a 5,500-foot long fence is being installed to protect the dunes at the mouth of the Kasilof River. The fence, which is a guardrail, will assist in keeping vehicles off the dunes and ensure the conservation of the habitat.

The Kasilof fence has been the topic of a debate lasting almost two years. Along with a fence, the state Department of Natural Resources has been working on a decision to designate a special use area in order to monitor and control activity on the dunes. That decision was announced late last week.

The fence is on the south side of the mouth of the river and will protect the wetlands, which have developed trails from excessive vehicle traffic throughout the years. The fence starts as the trails begin from the parking lot and borders the trails around to the river's mouth.

Brent Johnson has been helming the project since its proposal in 2009.

Johnson, the president of the Kasilof Historical Society, said something had to be done because of the heavy vehicle traffic on the dunes that was destroying the wetlands.

"This is the first step in protection of the habitat," South Central Dipnetters Association President Ken Federico said, "It's the protection of the dunes."

The concept was based on the fence that was constructed in Kenai to keep vehicles off the dunes there.

"Kenai is the perfect example," Federico said.

The Kasilof Historical Society received a $60,000 grant from the state for the fence with the hope the dunes would be deemed a special use area in the future.

"If you have a special use area, then they can make it illegal to drive back there," Johnson said.

Kenai Watershed Forum Executive Director Robert Ruffner said the fence would be a good way to keep vehicles on the trails by the beach.

"That's the purpose of it, to keep the wheeled traffic onto the established trails so people aren't making new trails and damaging the wetlands that are associated with the Kasilof flats," Ruffner said.

The Kenai Watershed Forum has been assisting Johnson in the process by putting up the money needed for a construction security bond, and has provided other additional funding to the project. The Kenai Watershed Forum is one of 16 organizations that have been in support of the special use area.

Harry Miller, a resident of Cohoe for 30 years, says it is time something was done to protect the land. Miller watched warning signs and other safety material destroyed and ignored, and is concerned the fence might be altered by graffiti or other violent actions.

"It'll be interesting to see how long it stays before somebody wrecks it," Miller said.

There has not been much opposition to the fence itself; however, there has been opposition to the idea of a special use area, including a petition from the Cohoe Kasilof Community Council. Two of the concerns are about the possibility of having to pay a fee to use the land and restrictive access to the area.

Ruffner said he understands the concerns about the fence, but thinks very little will change in regard to access to the beach.

"As soon as people hear about fences and trying to help direct traffic they do get concerned because it means it's the first step towards blocking people's access and/or charging fees, and neither one of those are happening," Ruffner said.

Construction on the fence is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at logan.tuttle@peninsulaclarion.com.





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2010 Peninsula Clarion award winners

Best Education Reporting
1st Place – Dante Petri, “All under one roof

Suzan Nightingale Award: Best Columnist

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Best News Photo

3rd Place – M. Scott Moon, “Bear Rescue

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Best Audio Slideshow
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Best Use of Story and Photos by a Journalist
2nd Place – Joseph Robertia, “Dipnet disaster averted

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