While I wasn't able to attend last Thursday's Kenai River Special Management Area board meeting due to another commitment, several friends were. One, a board member, gave me some hand-outs from the meeting. One hand-out, titled Kenai River Commercial Operators Trends And Numbers, 1982-2007, is of interest as Alaskan's ponder a long-term vision for the Kenai. The report is, I believe, the product of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and should be available upon request from the Kenai River Center: 260-4882.
The report breaks down commercial users of the Kenai into the following categories:
Non Resident, and
Considering where we'd like to see the Kenai in, say, 20 years, a backward look that far reveals trends. In 1987 there were 155 motorized guides; in 2007 there were 372 motorized guides. In 1987 there were 77 drift guides; in 2007 there were 53 drift guides. In 1987 there were 44 nonresident guides; in 2007 there were 113 nonresident guides.
Over the past 20 years, motorized guide numbers have way more than doubled, drift guides have decreased by about 25 percent, and nonresident guides have increased by more than 100 percent.
From 2006 to 2007, total guide numbers declined from 437 in 2006 to 425 in 2007. However, motorized guides increased by three, from 369 in '06 to 372 in '07 as did nonresident guides from 105 in '06 to 113 in '07.
Total guide numbers decreased overall because drift guide numbers decreased from 68 in '06 to 53 in '07 as did non-fishing guides from 41 in '06 to 29 in '07.
Clearly, over the past 20 years the Kenai River has absorbed a drastic increase in motorized guiding, a decrease in drift-boat guiding, and a great increase in nonresident guides. Where do we wish to see the Kenai at the end of the next 20 years?
Added to these figures, how many motorized guides run two trips a day as compared to how many ran two trips a day 20 years ago? A KRSMA board member told me he believes the majority of Kenai River guides currently run two trips a day. I don't know. Finally, and for what it's worth, of the 425 commercial operators on the Kenai, it's my understanding that less than half of them are members of Kenai River Professional Guide Association.
Where do we wish to see the Kenai in 20 years? . . .