The River Center is located on the banks of the Kenai River at River Mile 22.7. This stretch of the river has high, steep and easily erodible banks. To protect the river and provide safe recreational access to the river, a revegetation and walkway project was undertaken at the Kenai River Center in the spring and early summer of 2003.

The Issue

The bank behind the Kenai River Center is a popular river access point for anglers. Over the years, a number of trails have been created that crisscross the riverbank. These trails do not support vegetation and are prone to erosion, which in turn causes more vegetation to be lost and damages water quality and fish habitat in the river.

In June 2000, an initial effort was made to protect the shoreline at the ordinary high water line (OHW) by fastening spruce tree revetments to the bank with cables. Although this succeeded in slowing down the erosion at the water line, it was prone to damage by trampling. Also, erosion of the bank above continued as people traveled up and down the steep bank to access the river.

beach and trail
Old restoration effort and eroded hill

The Plan

The decision was made to develop a solution that would address two issues: the need to protect riverbank vegetation and slow erosion, and the need to provide safe access to the river for anglers and other recreational users.

Both issues could be resolved by the installation of elevated light-penetrating (ELP) walkways, ramps and stairs. This system provides a way for people to travel up and down the bank safely and without trampling bank vegetation. A fishing platform and stairs leading directly to the riverbed allow access for anglers while protecting the fragile riverbank.

Even before the project was finished, eager anglers were putting it to use.

Further protection of the riverbank at the ordinary high water level was also installed. A combination of root wads, cabled spruce tree revetments, soil wraps, and live willow stakes will help restore the health of the riverbank and provide critical habitat for juvenile fish.

To learn more about streambank restoration, click here.

The Design

The completed project has four sets of stairs leading to the river from two access points on the upper bank, as well as a ramp that accommodates wheelchair access to a fishing platform. Established trails lead to each walkway.

A clearing and gazebo on the upland section of the project provides an area to get out of the rain or eat lunch. This area will also be used in conjunction with educational programs at the Kenai River Center.

Garbage receptacles and portable toilets have also been put in place to encourage users to keep the riverbank area clean and litter-free.