In 1984, the Alaska legislature established the Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) as a unit of the state park system. KRSMA consists of more than 105 linear miles of rivers and lakes, including Kenai Lake, Skilak Lake, and the Kenai River from river mile 82 downstream to four miles above the river's mouth on Cook Inlet. Adjacent to these waters are 15 state park sub-units. Other land adjacent to the Kenai River is owned by cities, the borough, the federal government or is in private ownership. Much of the headwaters of the Kenai River watershed lie within the boundaries of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest. Below Skilak Lake, much of the land on the Kenai River is private property with a mix of public lands.
As one of the most heavily used fresh-water fisheries in Alaska, the popularity of the Kenai River puts a strain on resource management. A comprehensive management plan for the area, developed by agencies and a public advisory board, guides the cooperative efforts of the land managers. The plan's goal is to protect the natural resources and fish and wildlife habitat, manage the river's recreational and commercial uses and provided public facilities.
KRSA worked in the successful effort to establish the Kenai River Center, a multi-agency permitting, information and education center. Local, state and federal agencies work together to protect the natural resources of the Kenai Peninsula. Increased coordination and communication between permitting agencies streamlines the permitting process and education for private landowners, who are key to successful resource protection efforts on the river.
Through our habitat programs, KRSA supports fish habitat protection and responsible angler access and infrastructure within KRSMA and elsewhere on the Kenai Peninsula and Alaska.