- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - Homeowners concerned about the level of erosion alongside a river in their Kenai Peninsula community have to consider other options to prevent the bank from collapsing after officials shot down their request to install a type of rock that would provide long-term stabilization.

Homeowners in the Funny River community have been concerned about erosion along the river for over 15 years. Their past attempts at mitigating the problem have been unsuccessful, and the latest setback was dealt Monday.

The borough’s planning commission denied the group’s application for a permit to install riprap along the bank, citing risk to fish habitat and impacts on natural vegetation. Commissioners also said there are still other options for homeowners to try and stabilize the bank, such as spruce tree revetments and root wad, The Peninsula Clarion reported (https://bit.ly/29Vay2D).

The river’s current wiped out spruce tree revetments that were installed in 2004 and 2006, and homeowners say root wad also won’t provide a permanent fix and is too expensive.

Installing root wad along the 163 feet of river bank proposed for the project would cost about $73,700, or about $2,948 for each of the 25 members of the Clearwater Lot Owners’ Association, according to an estimate requested by the group last year.

“That’s a huge amount of money, and what if it all washes away, too?” Cathy Morgan told the Planning Commission at the Monday meeting.

An option for funding the project is a cost sharing program offered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to help landowners and land managers pay for bank restoration projects. The program can cover 50 percent or more of the cost to complete a project, said Tracy Smith with the department’s Division of Sportfish.

“It’s a win-win,” Smith said. “It’s stabilizing the stream bank, which is a pro for the landowner and for the fish at the same time.”

Some homeowners still seem dead set on installing riprap, which offers a more permanent fix to the bank problem.

Jim Harpring, a local property owner, argued to the commission that the state had installed riprap in a number of rivers in the borough to protect roads in recent years. He pointed to the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek.

“There are apparently, in this borough, two standards - one for public facilities and one for the private sector,” Harpring said to the commission.

Borough code allows for riprap to be used to protect roadways and other public projects, said Tom Dearlove, the manager of the River Center. The Ninilchik River and Deep Creek projects cited by Harpring were in response to major flood events.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com


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