Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:53 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sharing answers, questions

Saturday event features research on Anchor River

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photographer: Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Fishermen cast their lines in the Anchor River below the bridge in a file photo taken last summer.

An Alaska fisheries biologist once said of the Anchor River, "It's kind of like the weather. It gives everyone something to talk about."

The exceptional productivity and natural beauty of the largest watershed on the lower Kenai Peninsula is something nearly everyone here can relate to. Fishermen, businessmen, families and visitors use the river to fill their freezers, make a living, learn and experience Alaska.

It's only natural that this great force generates questions:

How is it doing? Are the salmon happy? What are those people with the boxes and notebooks doing?

Lynn Whitmore, longtime Anchor River fisherman, said he's often asked questions like these during his time on the river.

"I know because of my interaction with other fishing idiots that a lot of people weren't aware of what's going on in the river, research-wise. Through all of those questions it dawned on me that, 'Geez, maybe we all ought to get at the same table and then translate that research into human terms that us nonscientist guys can understand,'" he said.

With Kachemak Bay Research Reserve coastal training coordinator Megan Murphy, Whitmore developed the idea for a public presentation of Anchor River research that would be both complete and entertaining.

"Celebrating the Anchor River through Stories and Science" is a free event that will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday at Chapman Elementary School in Anchor Point.

The multimedia presentation will feature short highlights of eight Anchor River research projects.

"We're orchestrating multiple science projects into one story around the salmon life cycle.

It's not just 'OK, scientist A and B, can you come to this date and time and share your research.'

We're having to work together and figure out how best to communicate our messages," Murphy said.

Murphy is excited about how this communication among scientists and between scientists and the public can expand overall understanding, and therefore health, of the system.

Presenters and others who are involved with river research will be available at stations after the presentation question and answer session for follow-up questions and conversations.

Representatives from the Alaska Department as Fish and Game, Cook Inletkeeper, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Coble Geophysics, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust and the Kenai Watershed Forum will be on hand to discuss topic such as monitoring and managing salmon in the river, temperature, soil and turbidity impacts on fish habitat, food web and impact on river ecosystem, what is a watershed, juvenile salmon habitats, headwaters streams, protection possibilities and an effort to redirect part of the Anchor River.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist Mike Booz, the one who related the river to the weather, said the watershed has attracted a variety of researchers because of its productiveness, popularity for sport fishing and potential threats to the salmon populations.

Speaking about the importance of Saturday's event, he said, "This is just bringing it to the public in Anchor Point. So they have an opportunity to know what's going on all at once."

For more information about the event, call 226-4653 or email megan.murphy@alaska.gov.