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From an Alaska Department of Natural Resources News Release:

All power boaters operating in the Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) in 2007 must still observe the 35 horsepower limit, as new regulations allowing larger engines will not apply until 2008, and state park rangers this summer will vigorously enforce the current 35 horsepower limit, officials in the Alaska State parks’ Kenai Area office said recently.

The recent announcement by Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin of regulatory changes in the allowable size of boats and motors, and the corresponding requirements that such engines be cleaner burning, does not relieve anyone of the obligation to observe the current 35 horsepower limit, said Jack Sinclair, the Kenai area superintendent for the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

The present 35 horsepower restriction will continue to be enforced on all waters of the Kenai River Special Management Area excluding Kenai and Skilak Lake and the area below the Kenai Lake Bridge to Mile 80.7 of the upper Kenai River, Sinclair said.

“People are reading the headlines and not the fine print, and that might lead to problems,” Sinclair cautioned. “Some people are assuming these regulation changes are going into effect immediately or sometime in 2007, but that is definitely not the case.”

Sinclair and the Kenai River Ranger staff are posting signs and posters at all the access points along the Kenai River, at the local visitor centers and at local boat dealers to remind power boaters that the 35 horsepower regulation will be strictly enforced for the 2007 season.

Rangers will patrol the river as in past years, and while the horsepower issue will not be the target of their patrols, any boat showing signs of excessive speed will be stopped and inspected. Any powerboat operator stopped in the course of other violations will be inspected for compliance with the 35 horsepower regulation.

“We’re hoping that boaters will take the time to read the signs and know the rules in effect for this year and avoid a citation,” Sinclair said. When they take effect, possibly not until late fall, the new regulations will require that:

  • As of Jan.1, 2008, boats operating in the KRSMA may use motors of up to and including 50 horsepower, but all motors larger than 35 horsepower must be either four-stroke or Direct Fuel Injected (DFI) two-stroke engines.
  • In 2008 and 2009, all power boaters operating in the KRSMA during the high-traffic month of July must use either four-stroke or DFI two-stroke engines.
  • By Jan. 1, 2010, all power boaters operating anywhere in the KRSMA, including Kenai or Skilak lakes must have either four-stroke or DFI two-stroke engines.
  • The horsepower limits will not apply to boaters in the Kenai or Skilak Lakes or for one mile downstream from the river’s Kenai Lake outlet, although the four-stroke or DFI two-stroke requirement will apply as of Jan. 1, 2008.
  • The regulations will impose a maximum boat size in the KRSMA of 21 feet long and 106 inches wide; however, those who own boats larger than that and can prove they owned them before the regulation change may apply for a permit to use the oversized boats until Dec. 31, 2009.
  • As of January 1, 2010, the boat size limit will apply to all powerboats in the KRSMA except on Kenai and Skilak lakes.
A full synopsis of the regulations for the Kenai River Special Management Area are available online at

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