The Kenai Peninsula Trout Unlimited Chapter has been kind enough to provide me with a once-in-a-lifetime experience of a summer working in Alaska with the Kenai Watershed Forum. I want to show my gratitude for this opportunity by keeping the chapter updated on the summer projects that it has graciously funded.
For a little background about me—I grew up in Wisconsin, and like many other Midwesterners, spent a lot of time outdoors hiking, biking, camping, fishing, etc. However, I witnessed firsthand the devastation in my hometown lake after zebra mussels infested the lake bottom, in a nearby wetland that was overgrown with Purple Loosestrife and in the Mississippi River now that Asian Carp are present. When I got to college, I decided to pursue double majors in Conservation Biology and Environmental Science, influenced by my love of the outdoors but also by the changes I saw happening in my own backyard. Now armed with some experience with the Department of Natural Resources in Madison, WI, the Forest Service in Dillon, CO and a local conservation district in the Lake Tahoe area of CA/NV, I’m ready to take on the Last Frontier.
A majority of my work this summer consists of participating in and furthering the Stream Watch program. If you haven’t already seen us in action on the river (Russian, Upper and Lower Kenai, mouth of the Kasilof), we are a group of staff and volunteers from a range of different agencies and entities that partake in river protection projects ranging from fish passage barrier removals to spruce tree revetments to fence installations. Probably most importantly, we have a presence on the river every day during the salmon runs taking to anglers about river stewardship and Leave No Trace ethics. Instead of focusing on rules and regulations, we aim to educate visitors and locals alike about how to preserve river habitat to ensure healthy fish populations.
In addition to Stream Watch, I will be helping with some baseline monitoring and water quality testing projects. There is a TU volunteer workday planned for later this summer, and I hope to meet you all there!
Come say hi if you see me around this season, and check back for more updates as the fish come in. Happy summer!