Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ready for Redoubt? — Central Peninsula prepares for possible eruption

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Pilots, especially, remember the story from Mount Redoubt’s last eruption in December 1989.

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747, with 231 passengers aboard, flew into an ash cloud spewed from Mount Redoubt at 27,900 feet. The tiny, abrasive ash particles choked the engines and all four quit, leaving the plane in a freefall two miles down.

The pilot was able to restart the engines and landed safely in Anchorage. The situation turned out for the best, but makes pilots remember to be prepared for the worst. That’s why if Redoubt erupts again — as the Alaska Volcano Observatory says it could at any time — they’ll be keeping a close eye on the ash, and keeping their planes on the ground if it comes too close.

Bob Widman, a senior pilot with Missionary Aviation Repair Center in Soldotna, said he remembers hearing about the KLM flight during Redoubt’s last eruption, while he waited out the ash fall on the ground.

“I remember it was just like having a dark black cloud come over the place, and cinders were falling. We basically couldn’t fly, the abrasion from the ash would be too great for the airplane,” Widman, of Soldotna, said.

The story was on his mind when Mount Augustine erupted in 2006, as well. He was flying back to the peninsula at night by the north side of Mount Iliamna, when flight services hailed him and said, “Do you realize that Augustine just erupted?” he said.

“Now, with the technology you’ve got with GPS, it showed wind out of the northwest, which was comforting, but it was dark out and we were looking around to make sure you can still see stars. If you flew through an ash cloud it looks just like a regular cloud. We turned the (engine) auto ignition on in case you went through anything, which is probably not much preventative medicine,” Widman said.

“So we wouldn’t fly unless the cloud was drifting a certain way. We certainly wouldn’t try to go anywhere near those because the dust you’re going to get, it’s probably going to damage a plane permanently. It’ll take the paint off it and if it gets into the engine compartment it could snuff out the engine,” he said.

Flying during ash fallout from a volcanic eruption can have deadly consequences. But even people safely on the ground can be significantly impacted by it. That’s why the central peninsula is getting ready in case Mount Redoubt erupts again.

Increased seismic activity led volcano observatory scientists to upgrade Redoubt’s color code to orange Sunday, meaning an eruption could be imminent. Seismic activity simmered down somewhat Monday, but code orange was maintained.

A heightened level of preparedness is being maintained, as well. Scott Walden, coordinator of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, said OEM is in contact with the AVO, the Alaska branch of the National Weather Service and Homeland Security 24 hours a day while an eruption appears imminent.

“They not only give us current conditions, they also provide immediate modeling on weather to give me a good idea on ash fall, not only the thickness and density but the direction of travel,” Walden said.

If an eruption occurs and ash heads this way, the emergency alert system and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio alerts will be activated, AVO will issue informational updates and OEM will distribute information to local media sources, governments, police and fire departments, 911 dispatchers and the school district.

If it becomes necessary, OEM will set up a recorded phone line that’s updated with information throughout the day, and the emergency center will be staffed to answer calls, if need be.

But Walden points people to the Internet as the main source of information. AVO posts updates on volcanic activity at www.avo.alaska.edu. OEM’s Web site, www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency, also posts volcano updates, and has a wealth of information on how people can prepare for an eruption, including checklists of supplies, and what to do during and after an eruption.

Walden’s biggest advice is to stay inside and off the roads.

“Back in ’89, what we experienced in the fire department in Kenai was some concern about health, with the elderly and people with respiratory illnesses, and higher occurrences of car accidents because when ash started landing on ice and snow it got very slippery.”

Not only is ash slick, it’s damaging to engines.

“It’s like pouring a small quantity of sand in your engine intake. The less travel, the better chance of your vehicle lasting. It’s very abrasive.”

Ash can also add significant weight per square foot. If enough accumulates — especially on top of snowpack — it’s recommended to clear it off roofs or other structures that could be damaged by weight.

If people do have to go outside, wear a mask, Walden said. But it’s better to remain indoors if ash fall occurs.

“Just having those little safety kits at home with appropriate quantities of medicine, food and water for three to seven days, and don’t forget the pets,” Walden said.

Following is further information in the event of an eruption and ash fall:
  • Visit www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency for updates on current conditions and information on emergency preparedness and sheltering in place.
  • Stock up on vital supplies. Have enough food, water and necessary medication for everyone in your household — including pets — to last three to seven days. And think ahead. Some supplies may not be available in the event of heavy, continual ash fall, as some shipping services may be disrupted. Becky Dragseth, a dispatcher for Carlile Transportation in Kenai, said trucks will roll up to a certain point, but they’ll be parked if ash gets too thick — which means groceries and other supplies may not show up as scheduled.
  • Stay inside. Vehicles can be damaged by volcanic ash, and roads can become slippery. Breathing ash can cause respiratory problems.
  • If you must go out, wear a mask.
  • Check the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Web site, www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us, for information on whether bus or school schedules will be affected by ash. Also, listen to the radio for updates.
  • Don’t let kids play outside during ash fall. Have inside activities ready to keep them occupied.
  • If you’re driving, don’t. Ash will damage engines and leave roads slippery. If you absolutely must drive (but it’s really not recommended), drive slowly, allowing extra stopping distance, and stock up on extra filters for your vehicle.
  • Plane passengers should check with their airline to see if their flights will be affected by an eruption. As long as ash doesn’t blow toward flight routes, planes can still fly. For Era passengers, call the Kenai station at 283-3322, or 1-800-866-8394. For Grant Aviation, call the Kenai station at 283-6012, or 1-888-359-4726. If flights are canceled due to ash, both airlines will honor tickets for up to a year.

Low impact sparks high debate — Cooper Landing residents voice concern over hydro projects

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Impact. That one word spurred on four hours of contention in a meeting Jan. 21 between Cooper Landing residents and representatives from Homer Electric Association and its associates that want to build four hydroelectric projects in the Cooper Landing region.

HEA representatives say the projects will be designed to be low-impact, meaning care will be taken to prevent substantive harm to the environment, fish and recreation. And they would be beneficial to HEA consumers, who are struggling with electric bills that rise along with natural gas prices.

Cooper Landing residents, however, classify building roads, tunnels and dams, changing lake levels, disturbing vegetation, altering natural water flows and drying up sections of salmon-spawning creeks as high impacts, especially when residents don’t stand to directly gain anything from the projects.

Brad Zubeck, project engineer with HEA, gave an overview of the projects in the Jan. 21 meeting at Cooper Landing’s Community Hall and explained why the energy co-op is pursuing them. Kenai Hydro has preliminary, three-year permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency and a $50,000 grant for each project from the Alaska Energy Authority to study the feasibility of four hydro projects in the Trail Lakes area near Moose Pass — on Crescent Lake, Ptarmigan Lake, Falls Creek and Grant Lake.

Kenai Hydro was formed as a partnership between HEA and Wind Energy Alaska, which in turn is a partnership between Cook Inlet Region Inc. and enXco, a renewable energy firm. Kenai Hydro has contracted with HDR Alaska to do engineering and environmental study work for the projects, as well as Long View Associates to assist with the regulatory process.

Zubeck told the packed room of more than 50 attendees that HEA needs to find new sources of energy. Its current contract with Chugach Electric Association expires 2013, and HEA hopes to add 70 megawatts of new power generation at that point. As it stands now, about 90 percent of HEA’s power comes from natural gas-fired turbines. Rising gas prices have led HEA members’ rates to nearly double in the last year alone. Wind and hydro power plants, once built, would provide low-cost energy to stabilize rates and lessen dependency on natural gas, Zubeck said. The proposed hydro projects could supply 10 percent of HEA’s future needs, he said.

“The renewables will be one piece of that puzzle,” he said. “… The projects are not going to answer our challenge, but we think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Cooper Landing residents wanted to know why HEA is stepping in their direction at all, since power for Cooper Landing, Moose Pass and beyond is supplied by Chugach, so any rate decreases HEA members may see wouldn’t affect those living near the hydro projects.

Because that’s where the resource is, Zubeck said. The projects are promising, prior research has already been done on them and they’re close to transition lines, which helps make them affordable. The waterways are a state resource, which HEA is entitled to try and use, Zubeck said.

“We need to provide for ourselves. These are on the scale we can accomplish and meet the needs we have in the time frame we’re faced with,” Zubeck said.

“This is also a high-impact area for all the people who live here,” said Ken Green, of Cooper Landing.

Todd Bethard, an engineer with HDR Alaska, explained the project concepts as they stand so far (see related story). They entail a laundry list of elements that residents were skeptical of, if not adamantly opposed to, such as building roads, tunnels and dams, changing lake levels, altering natural creek flows and altogether drying up sections of streams that support spawning salmon.

“How do you have the audacity to tell me it’s low-impact when you’re talking about roads and tunnels? That’s major rape, pillage, plunder, slash and burn. Don’t try to tell me that’s low impact. You’ve got a lot of convincing to convince me of low impact,” said Phil Webber, of Cooper Landing.

Some projects drew more fire than others. A 1.5-mile long tunnel proposed for Ptarmigan Lake and creek, which supports productive fish habitat, generated several questions and comments about whether the 3 MW capacity the project is expected to generate is worth the construction costs and environmental upheaval the project would entail.

Zubeck conceded that he was skeptical the tunnel plan would proceed once HDR comes back with cost estimates.

“We’re looking at it. That’s all were doing now. That’s the stage we’re at,” he said. “…Honestly, I don’t think that Homer’s going to pursue this. We’re not trying to force this project, we’re just working with these concepts here.”

Crescent Lake was the other main sore spot with residents.

“You’re going to ruin some of the best fishing there is. I guarantee it. The best fishing is right under the outlet of Crescent Lake,” Webber said, about a plan to replace the footbridge across Crescent Creek at the outlet of the lake, in prime arctic grayling territory, with a concrete structure that would control water release into the creek and allow fish passage.

Zubeck assured the audience that they would protect grayling habitat and that HDR will conduct environmental studies on fish usage in Crescent and all the streams involved in the projects to determine what it needs to do to protect fish and wildlife in the areas.

“What they need, they’ll get. What they don’t need would go to power generation,” he said.

Audience members voiced skepticism that environmental studies would generate enough data to ensure the hydro projects wouldn’t inflict harm. Especially concerning were complex issues like whether water temperatures would increase after water is diverted through turbines, and what effect that may have on the ecosystem; and how disturbing natural water flows by drying up sections of creeks and eliminating natural flood events might impact everything from microorganisms and vegetation on up to fish.

“I have serious doubts that you’re going to be able to do that, and I don’t know. You’re going to have to convince me and everyone here that you can do that,” said John Thorne, of Cooper Landing.

“It’s not an easy job, I won’t kid you,” said Paul McLarnon, a biologist with HDR who is planning on conducting environmental research on the projects this summer.

Thorne wanted to know if there’s a predetermined amount of losses to fish and habitat that HEA and regulators would find acceptable.

“We don’t have a number,” McLarnon said. “We would provide that information to the regulatory agencies and work with them on that” — meaning FERC and the slate of state agencies that have a hand in approving permits will look at HDR’s research and engineering plans and determine if the likely effects and risks from the projects are acceptable, too great, or plausible with some plan modifications.

That being said, “It’s low-impact, it’s not no-impact. I’ve never worked on a project anywhere where there’s no impact,” McLarnon said.

Several audience members made it clear they opposed any impacts to the area, especially Crescent Lake.

“Right off the bat you’re going to get 10 percent (of HEA’s power needs) off these things, but the cost to the environment alone seems astronomical,” said John Belcik, of Cooper Landing. “For what you’re going to get off it, you’re looking at the most beautiful lake in the whole dag bern Alaska. We don’t need more people having access to it.”

Residents also voiced concerns about whether the regulatory and permit approval process was rigorous enough to adequately protect against environmental and recreational harms, especially since the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation doesn’t review hydro projects to make sure they comply with the Clean Water Act, essentially leaving the decisions up to people in Washington, D.C.

But representatives from various state agencies in the audience pointed out that FERC and Alaska DEC aren’t the only organizations from which Kenai Hydro needs approval. The Forest Service, Fish and Game and various other agencies also have a hand in process.

Jim Ferguson, statewide hydro-power coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, issued a bleak outlook for one element of HDR’s current plans.

“We’ve never authorized the dewatering of a creek, and I seriously doubt we would do that now,” he said. “We’ll certainly look at it, but I think that’s highly unlikely.”

Toward the end of the meeting, residents speculated on where the process would go. Thorne said he thought HEA was serious about two projects — Grant Lake and Falls Creek — and only included Crescent and Ptarmigan lakes because the effects from those seem so much more controversial that people would be relieved to just have Grant and Ptarmigan, by comparison.

Bob Baldwin, chair of the Friends of Cooper Landing, which filed formal opposition with FERC to Kenai Hydro’s preliminary permits, said everyone has a legal voice in the process.

“We are assuming this will not happen. The consultants here are working to see it happen. We will be working on the other side of this. … We are very strongly committed that Crescent Lake will not happen,” he said, to a round of applause.

Webber was less optimistic that the regulatory process would safeguard environmental concerns.

“I may look stupid, but I’m not dumb. You guys have made up your mind. You’re going to gather enough data and press on,” he said, accusing that the environmental study results would be used to make the projects look favorable. “Give me two pages and I can convince God that the sun rises in the east.”

Another public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. today, Jan. 28, at the Moose Pass Community Hall.

HEA details early plans for hydro sites

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Kenai Hydro is in the preliminary stages of investigating the feasibility of four hydro projects near Moose Pass.

Todd Bethard, an engineer with HDR Alaska, explained the project concepts as they stand so far to a group of Cooper Landing residents Jan. 21. He said the projects are designed to limit visual impacts and harm to recreational and mining uses, fish and the environment.
Grant — Dam would make reservoir
Kenai Hydro is considering building a 9-foot-high concrete dam across the natural outlet of Grant Lake to use the lake for water storage, which would increase the project’s potential power output. The lake could hold 38,200 acre-feet of water, with the lake level rising 9 feet above and 25 feet below its natural elevation as water is stored and released. An aboveground steel pipe, called a penstock, would follow the topography of Grant Creek down to a powerhouse built at 530 feet elevation. An existing dirt mining road north of Falls Creek would be extended to allow access to the dam and powerhouse, and would avoid existing trails. Overhead transmission lines would connect the powerhouse to existing lines along the Seward Highway.

Estimated power capacity would be 4.7 megawatts. With the dam and water diverted through the penstock, the section of creek just below the lake outlet would be “dewatered,” Bethard said, and water would be returned to the creek after it ran through the turbines. Bethard said the lake supports some fish — stickleback and sculpin — but previous studies don’t show fish migration in the upper reaches of the creek. HDR plans to return water to the creek above where migratory salmon use it for spawning.

“So we’re looking at taking water from areas of the creek that don’t have fish in them,” Bethard said.

The project would be similar in concept to Chugach’s dam at Cooper Lake, which is blamed for destroying fish runs in Cooper Creek. Paul McLarnon, a biologist with HDR, said the difference is that water in Cooper Creek today actually comes from Stetson Creek, which is colder than Cooper Lake.

“The water out of Grant Lake is put it back into Grant Creek,” he said. “It’s the same water. There wouldn’t be a temperature difference there.”

Community members were concerned about the possible effects of removing and returning water to the creek, whether running the water through turbines would increase water temperature, and what effect that may have on fish.

“That’s something we definitely want to study. I don’t know that right now,” McLarnon said.

Falls — Water may go to Grant Lake
To the south of Grant Lake is Falls Creek, so named for a 100-foot waterfall and smaller falls. Previous studies in the 1980s concluded the large waterfall impedes fish passage in the upper reaches of the creek, although salmon use the lower reaches of Falls Creek.

The creek isn’t suitable for a dam and water storage, Bethard said, so HDR is considering two other options. A run-of-river intake structure would be built, probably at 800 feet of elevation, to divert water into a 40-inch diameter steel penstock. Run of river means water is diverted out of the creek with a structure built to the creek’s water level, rather than a dam higher than the water level storing up larger volumes of water behind it. The intake would include a sluiceway to release incremental water flows.

The penstock could divert water to a powerhouse built at 500 feet elevation with a rated capacity of 3.9 million kWh. Water would be returned to the creek below the powerhouse, with the section of the creek between the intake and water release being dewatered. Existing mining roads with additional short stubs could be upgraded to provide access. If this method is used, the powerhouse would be shut down November to April, Bethard said.

But the preferred idea is to take the water from Falls Creek over to Grant Lake and add to the water capacity there to increase the potential power output of that dam.

“If we can take water to Grant we do see a little more of a benefit. Diverting is the preferred alternative,” Bethard said.

That would could mean Falls Creek goes without water year-round, unless biological studies show some level of instream flow must occur to maintain fish habitat.

Ptarmigan – Tunnel would carry water
South of Falls Creek, the proposed Ptarmigan Lake project would include an intake structure at the outlet of the lake, a gatehouse and an outlet control structure that would control the amount of water released into the creek.

“Ptarmigan is a very productive system,” McLarnon said of the waterway’s fish usage.

Bethard said the project would maintain a certain amount of water release for fish.

It would also involve a 9-foot-diameter, tunnel just shy of 1.5 miles long to bring water to the powerhouse, which would be built at 550 feet elevation. A new, half-mile road near Kenai Lake would provide access to the powerhouse, which would be built across from Ptarmigan Campground. Another new, single-lane access road, this one two miles long, would be built from the powerhouse to the gatehouse. Bethard said tailings from the tunnel could be used for road construction, as aggregate for concrete, for the foundation of the powerhouse or possibly sold to the Alaska Department of Transportation.

The Ptarmigan project has a capacity of 3 MW, but power output would depend on how much water is left in the creek and how much is diverted through the powerhouse. HDR estimates 3.2 million annual kWh production if 34 percent of the water is used for power, 6.4 million kWh if 67 percent is used for power, and 9.7 million kWh if all the water goes to power, although that number is for modeling purposes and wouldn’t likely happen, Bethard said.

Crescent — Trench would follow trail
On Crescent Lake, the original plan was to bring a penstock down Crescent Creek Valley, but that was abandoned when a suitable intake site wasn’t found. The upper reaches of the creek are productive grayling habitat, and farther down is a steep canyon that presented engineering hurdles, Bethard said.

Now the plan is to replace the bridge over Crescent Creek at the lake outlet with a concrete bridge that would control water release into the creek and allow for fish passage, Bethard said. On the other end of the lake, a 7,750-foot tunnel or deep trench would be dug to install a 13,000-foot steel penstock that would take water from the east end of the lake past Carter Lake and down the mountainside to a powerhouse at 550 feet elevation. The trench would traverse the valley between Carter and Crescent Lakes along roughly the same route as a popular hiking trail.

Bethard said the tunnel or trench would be dug and penstock installed in the winter to minimize harm to the vegetation. Vegetation that’s dug up would be replaced and is expected to regrow, he said. The pipe would re-emerge near the outlet of Carter Lake and travel above ground down the mountainside to the powerhouse.

The existing Crescent Lake trail could be used to access the outlet flow structure on the west side of the lake. On the Carter Lake side, HDR would put in a new, single-lane, 2.5-mile road up past Carter Lake to access the intake structure on Crescent. Bethard said HDR considered just widening and using the existing trail, but the first part is probably too steep for that.

The Crescent Lake project has a rated capacity of 5.8 MW, but energy output would again depend on how much water is used. In its modeling, HDR figures 23.4 million kWh if no water is released through the creek, 16.1 million kWh if 33 percent of the water goes down the creek, and 8.8 million kWh if 66 percent of the water is released.

Muddying the waters — Hydrocarbon pollution reduced, turbidity churns up new river threat

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Just as the Kenai River celebrates a victory over pollution, there’s evidence of another threat to ecology lurking below the surface.

Score one for the Kenai River, at least as far as hydrocarbons go. But that isn’t the only threat the Kenai is facing, Robert Ruffner, executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, told the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition in a meeting Thursday. There’s another challenge lurking in — or murking up — the water: turbidity.

Turbidity is muddy water — sediment suspended in the water column. It occurs naturally so it’s not pollution as it’s often thought of, like gasoline, oil or some other foreign substance dumped in the water. Turbidity can result from any number of natural circumstances, even a bear stirring up mud when it wades out to fish, or the fish flopping through shallow water if it happens to escape.

On the Kenai, there’s a certain amount of natural background turbidity, measured in NTUs (Nephelometric Turbidity Units). Five NTUs is about the level where turbidity becomes noticeable from clear water, Ruffner said. The Kenai’s normal background turbidity level can range from single digits up to the mid-20s, he said. The turbidity level can spike much higher — up to 50 or 60 NTUs — and still be a natural event, Ruffner said, when the Funny and Killey rivers pump runoff and meltwater into the Kenai.

But it can also occur from nonnatural events, as appears to be the case during July. The culprit, as it was with hydrocarbons, appears to be boats. As motorboat use increased during the summer, so did turbidity readings.

“Along the edge of the water where the boat wakes hit the bank there’s a pretty clearly defined zone of turbidity along the bank,” Ruffner said.

Mixing it up
The Kenai Watershed Forum studied turbidity this summer with instruments placed 15 to 30 feet from shore at Eagle Rock, river mile 11.5, and Swiftwater Park, river mile 23. The instruments took readings every 15 minutes from May 15 to Sept. 1 — except for a few hiccups.

“Somebody shot the buoy one day, which didn’t make us very happy. We lost a few day’s data,” Ruffner said. And at one point someone pulled the buoy at Swiftwater onshore. But, “we have a really good data set to take a look at this,” he said.

From mid-May to mid-June, turbidity levels were about the same at Swiftwater and Eagle Rock, ranging from single digits up to mid-20s NTUs. A little later in June, turbidity at both sites rose to a little above 50 NTUs for a few days, which is attributable to the Funny and Killey rivers discharging, Ruffner said.

In late June and July, things changed. The Swiftwater sensor, which is upriver from the busy motorboat section of the river, recorded turbidity levels similar to May and June, with a few increases in background turbidity from the Killey and Funny rivers. But Eagle Rock saw significant spikes in turbidity, up to just below 100 NTUs the first two weeks in July, and up to 140 and 150 NTUs the last two weeks of July. That’s 80 NTUs above even an elevated background level from the Funny and Killey rivers, and about 130 NTUs above a calm turbidity background.

The spikes at Eagle Rock occurred twice a day, once in early morning and once in the evening — which is typically when boats head out on the river and when they take out at the end of the day. The exception was Mondays, the drift boat-only day on the river, when there were no unnatural turbidity spikes.

“That’s a pretty repeatable pattern, and on Mondays we don’t see that,” Ruffner said. “There’s no other obvious explanation than boat traffic that causes those spikes.”

Even if the relationship between motorboat traffic and increased turbidity is clear, as Ruffner said, what isn’t clear is what might happen because of it.

One answer is nothing, at least for the time being. Ruffner said it takes two years of monitoring to establish baseline data, and the turbidity study will continue again this summer. And data can be interpreted in different ways. If DEC takes daily averages of turbidity levels, for example, that approach would obliterate the significance of the morning and evening spikes.

Coming up with clear turbidity data can be murky in and of itself, what with having to factor in the effects of tide changes, tributary stream drainage and river flow lag time between the two sensor locations.

“It’s a pretty monumental task, it’s not going to be simple,” Ruffner said. “If people want to question or consider how you get there, that’s one very obvious thing to criticize. I can see right away that I’m going to be faced with that challenge.”

Members of the Fishermen’s Coalition said they wanted to be proactive about the situation.

“Intuitively, it makes sense that there’s an impact there,” said Ken Tarbox. “… The burden of proof isn’t on biologists to show harm, the offending action has to show no harm, if you want to protect the resource.”

Jack Sinclair, area superintendent for the state Parks department, said that perhaps the Kenai River Special Management Area board will take up turbidity like it did hydrocarbon pollution and pursue regulatory changes to address the issue.

“We’ve gone through this once before and seen where it went, so maybe that will make a difference. I don’t know,” he said.

Dwight Kramer, chair of the coalition, said it may be up to concerned residents to drum up awareness of the topic if they want to see regulatory changes to address it, just as they did with hydrocarbons.

“I don’t think if we left it up to DEC we’d be where we are today,” Kramer said. “It might be incumbent on us, if we see this progressing in the next few years, to start pushing it from our level.”

So, what?
The Kenai’s turbidity can spike up to 50 or 60 NTUs naturally, and other rivers in the state, like the Yukon, can have higher turbidity levels than the Kenai and still support fish runs.

“When you look at the data you can tell that something different is going on. It’s pretty easy to see what is occurring naturally without going into any statistics or doing anything fancy from the data, and you can see these departures from what’s going on in the background,” Ruffner said. “The ultimate question is, so what? Is that a problem for the aquatic resources that are in the Kenai River and that make the Kenai River what it is? I don’t have a good answer for that.”

Turbidity can cause a variety of harms. For sight-feeding organisms, which can include juvenile fish, turbidity can mean they can’t see to find food. Certain sizes and shapes of particles can lodge in the gills of organisms that filter water. Turbidity can impact fish reproduction if sediment settles into the bottom of the river on spawning beds. And it’s a sign of bank erosion.

“That mud in the water is made up of the stuff that was on the bank,” Ruffner said.

Technically, the summer’s turbidity results put the Kenai out of compliance with water quality standards. For water bodies that don’t have a designated use — like recreation, transportation, etc. — by the state, the most stringent water quality standards under the Clean Water Act apply to it, Ruffner said. The state EPA hasn’t designated a use for the Kenai, or most water bodies in the state, so the standard for drinking water applies, which is no more than five NTUs above background levels. But Ruffner said he doubted this summer’s test results would land the river on the EPA’s impaired listing over turbidity anytime soon.

“The people who sit in the regulatory chair don’t really care what the people in the biology chair are saying. I doubt that we’re going to get an impaired status listing anytime soon,” he said.

There are a lot of questions still to sort out. Should turbidity be figured for the river as a whole, or in sections? Should turbidity results be looked at on an hourly, daily, weekly or some other basis? What effect do increases in turbidity have on the river?

People’s leaning on the politics of the river may affect their opinion of those questions.

“This is knowing full well that there will be people that will take this in and apply it to their interest, either for or against it, and that can’t be surprising to anybody. And it’s no different than what we saw with the hydrocarbon issue. People were able to spin that either way,” Ruffner said. “I don’t really know how people are going to take this and use it or not use it. From my perspective, if we’re documenting a problem with water quality, that ought to come first. We ought to protect water quality.”

Guest editorial: All power generation has an impact

The Kenai Peninsula hosts a couple hydroelectric generation facilities and a couple others were proposed in the past. With the ever-increasing costs of electricity, there are renewed activities looking into the feasibility of additional hydroelectric plants on the peninsula.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of rhetoric about these proposals that is misleading at best. A term being erroneously attached to the proposals and studies is “low impact.” However, hydroelectric power generation can hardly be called “low impact” when streams are completely dewatered or the entire biotic community is completely changed.

In order to generate electricity with water power, one needs a large volume of water that can be released on demand (whenever there is a demand for electricity). Also, in order to generate as much power as possible, the water needs a substantial “head.” That translates to mean the water source is dammed up as high as possible and allowed to generate power as the water is selectively released. The greater the height of the “head,” the greater the force the water exerts on the turbine impellers. That benefit of increased water height is why some of our well-known dams, like Hoover Dam or Grand Coolee, can generate so much electricity.

Besides aesthetic considerations, there are a number of very well-known impacts that dams always exert on a stream. Perhaps the first thing to understand is that any dam instantaneously changes the stream from a moving body of water into a lakelike reservoir. Virtually all stream species of algae, diatoms, insects, crustaceans, fish and associated animal life will be displaced by lake-associated species. All areas that were once valuable spawning sites for resident and anadromous fish will be filled with silt and sediments when the flow ceases. No further spawning will occur there. This stream disruption will continue as far upstream as the water is allowed to back up.

As a point of reference, the Kenai River gets backed up for almost 15 miles by the twice-daily tidal changes of 20 to 30 feet. Thus a lot of river or stream can be impacted by a relatively “low impact” dam.

Downstream of the impoundment there are other issues. Hydroelectric dams release water for power generation on a schedule that fits human power needs, not the stream needs. Most power is actually needed during daylight or normal working hours so more water is released during the day. Depending upon the size of the receiving stream, daily variations in water releases can raise or lower stream levels by a foot or more. Small streams can go from bank full conditions to drought levels on a daily basis. This unnatural fluctuation eliminates a great many stream organisms. While some stream invertebrates will remain in the now altered stream, the species assemblage will be unlike the original inhabitants and total biomass within the stream will be heavily reduced downstream of the dam. The invertebrate losses will then cause a heavy reduction in the fish populations that relied on them for food.

Since the stream below an impoundment has its flow closely regulated, there are no more floods. At first blush that may seem to be a good thing. However, streams benefit from periodic flooding and high waters. These events clear out fine particles deposited in the stream and re-sort the gravels into like-sized sections. Salmon look for these uniform-sized gravel beds to use for spawning.

Another seemingly subtle change caused by dams and impoundments is the temperature of the waters being released. Water coming from the bottom of a reservoir will be colder than the normal stream temperature and water released from the surface of the reservoir tends to be much warmer than normal stream water. Generally, the winter water outflow is warmer than normal and the summer water outflow is cooler than normal. Some large dams can produce detectable thermal changes in the outflow streams for dozens and dozens of miles downstream. The concern here is that we know many aquatic organisms depend upon temperature changes to signal times for migration, emergence, reproduction, etc. Thus, subtle changes in water temperatures on a seasonal and daily basis can disrupt the life cycles of the remaining organisms.

These are just a few of the changes a dam can exert upon a stream. If we are going to consider hydroelectric power generation on the Kenai Peninsula we will have to consider the tradeoffs and decide what we value most highly. These will be some difficult decisions. Remember, there is no “free lunch,” and there is no “low-impact” way to generate power.

David Wartinbee, Ph.D, J.D., is a biology professor at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus.

Editorial: As the river churns ...

Just when it seems the Kenai River is on the road to recovery following news that hydrocarbon pollution has been cleaned up in July, results of a new study are stirring up renewed concern over the health of the river.

Robert Ruffner, executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, had a good news, bad news presentation for the Kenai Area Fishermen’s Coalition on Thursday.

The good: Test results from this summer show a dramatic reduction in hydrocarbon pollution in the lower reaches of the Kenai River, attributed to a regulation banning two-stroke outboard motors in favor of cleaner-burning, four-stroke models and direct fuel-injection two-strokes.

When the lower Kenai River was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s impaired listing due to pollution, tests found hydrocarbon levels at 20 to 25 parts per billion during peak fishing season in July, well over the limit of 10 ppb. In July 2008, those numbers were down to two to five ppb, Ruffner said.

There’s some discrepancy in the numbers, and water-quality testing will continue this summer to nail down the most accurate results possible. Ruffner said water levels and tides were high this summer, which may have aided in the dilution and flushing out of pollutants. And there’s some question over how the lab treated one of the four hydrocarbon compounds it tested for, which may have skewed results slightly higher than they should be.

Then there was the bad news: Turbidity testing from the summer shows significant spikes during late June and especially July, which Ruffner relates to peak boat use on the river.
Turbidity — muddy water — occurs naturally to some extent, but it appears that human activity is causing a literal stir on its own. Sediment in water can impact a fish’s ability to feed and spawn, and certain sizes of particles can lodge in gills and harm organisms. It’s also a sign of bank erosion.

The tricky part comes in determining how much impact is too much, and what should be done about it. The Kenai’s turbidity level can spike up to 40 or 50 NTUs (the measurement for turbidity) due to natural conditions. Human activity seems to be pushing it up significantly higher, to 150 NTUs.

But where’s the line when unnatural becomes unhealthy?

Common sense says there’s an impact from that much sediment being washed into the river, but science has yet to specifically identify the impact and quantify how serious it is.
Then comes the regulatory process to decide whether rules will change to address the issue.

After having just emerged from this process with hydrocarbons, it’d be nice to sit back and relax on the river for a while. But having a resource like the Kenai running through our backyards means we also have the ongoing duty of caring for it.

That duty may be laborious sometimes, but the Kenai River is worth it.

Striking it rich — Setting record for marathon bowling gets man $1,000

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

Near the end of his attempt at the record, Tony Bordenelli’s badly blistered left hand was sporting a rubber glove and his right thumb was wound with wrinkled medical tape as he staggered from lane to lane in Soldotna’s new bowling alley, the Sky Bowl, sending one ball after another toward the pins at the other end of the hardwood.

Doggedly he persisted until, at 3:19 a.m. June 26, 1960, he completed his 1,002nd consecutive game, breaking the world record of 1,001 straight games set by 37-year-old Steve Karpinski of Plainville, Conn., who had completed the task in 110 hours and 7 minutes.

At that point, according to a July 8, 1960, article in The Cheechako News, Bordenelli’s wife, Eyvohn, gave him a celebratory hug and a kiss, which prompted the 45-year-old, 147-pound Bordenelli to pick up his bride and swing her around in his arms.

Then someone in the crowd of spectators called out, “Are you through?”

Bordenelli replied, “Well, I think I’ll just bowl six more games and give that fool in Connecticut something to shoot at.”

Bordenelli had bowled a 106 in game number 1,002. In the next six games, he went on to post a 112, a 107, a 115, a 104, a 133, and a 116, mostly to the cheering of spectators marveling at his endurance.

In the end, he had bowled 1,008 straight games in 79 hours and 45 minutes, averaging 101.7 pins per game and nearly 13 games an hour. By the estimate of Sky Bowl owner, Burton Carver, the right-handed Bordenelli had bowled about 40 percent of his games left-handed, including his low-score game (his 880th) of 13. His highest score for one game had been a 183.

A team of eight scorekeepers had worked in shifts to keep track of Bordenelli’s progress and to form an official record of the event. After all the numbers were tallied, they determined that Bordenelli had made 924 strikes and had knocked down a total of 102,548 pins.

Alan Phillips, who had been a 15-year-old scorekeeper during some of the evening and early morning hours, said that the attempt at the record “was the most exciting thing going on in the whole town.”

“Back in those days, the bowling alley was one of the only gathering places, other than the post office,” Philips said, and so local residents wandered in and out during all times of the day to check on Bordenelli’s progress.

After the final game, Bordenelli posed for a photograph with Carver and his trainer, Charlie Hill, who then gave the exhausted bowler a rubdown for his aching muscles. In the victory photo — which appeared on page one of the newspaper under a banner headline proclaiming his success — all three men are holding bowling balls, but Bordenelli is holding his ball with his wrists instead of his gnarled hands. Blood can be seen on his right hand, while both of his thumbs are coiled in tape.

According to Bordenelli’s good friend, Ray LaFrenere, who wrote about the incident in Once Upon the Kenai, the whole affair came about because of Bordenelli’s affinity for gambling — a predilection remembered by other area residents of that time. LaFrenere said that if his friend had been alive in the days of Skagway’s famous Soapy Smith, “I’d guess that Smith would have had to take a back seat.”

LaFrenere claimed that Bordenelli, who hailed from Colorado Springs, Colo., and owned the Jet Bar in Kenai, “bet a couple high rollers that he could bowl 1,000 games nonstop.”

That bet apparently led Bordenelli to Carver, who helped him set up the event.

They began by contacting the American Bowling Congress to find out information concerning the feat, which is how they learned of Karpinski’s mark. The Sky Bowl sponsored Bordenelli, and Carver promised him a check for $1,000 if he succeeded in breaking the record. Carver also encouraged spectators to contribute to the pot, and Bordenelli said he would give all the money to charity if he failed.

The Brunswick bowling company furnished Bordenelli with three specially fitted balls since he planned to bowl on three lanes simultaneously. He was allowed to break for 15 minutes each hour, but was not allowed to save his breaks and use them cumulatively. Plans were made to have a physician standing by in the latter stages of the attempt — just in case.

On day two, when a bloody callous had developed on the thumb of Bordenelli’s left hand, Dr. Paul Isaak arrived to remove the callous, tape the thumb and cover the digit with a protective metal guard.
Painful hands and fingers were not the first major hurdle that Bordenelli encountered, according to the newspaper. The Cheechako reported that the bowler’s biggest problem early on was his desire to sleep. Once he overcame that, the paper said, he stayed on pace for the record.

In his later years, Bordenelli moved to Anchorage, where, at the age of 89, he once again made headlines and once again demonstrated his toughness. In a 2003 article in the Anchorage Daily News is a report of Bordenelli trying to fight off an intruder in his Fairview neighborhood home. Accompanying the story is a color photograph that shows Bordenelli with a small cut on his left temple and a swirl of yellow and dark purple around his left eye.

According to the story, on the evening of June 16, he and his second wife, Patty, and their infant daughter were at home when a man burst in through the front door they had propped open to help circulate the air inside. While his wife and child hid in a closet, Bordenelli faced the intruder.

The attacker, wielding a pellet gun, shoved Bordenelli into a bathroom and onto the floor, where he straddled the elderly man, demanding money. Bordenelli kicked the man between the legs.

“That’s when he shot me,” Bordenelli told the paper, showing a reporter a bandage on his upper chest. And when he tried to rise, the attacker pistol-whipped him across the left temple before stealing money and other items from his pants pockets and fleeing the scene.

The reporter, in recounting the incident, called Bordenelli “a former boxer” and referred to a newspaper clipping of his bowling record framed on one wall.

Bordenelli, for his part, remained tough and resolute, even in defeat.

“If I saw him coming in,” he said of the intruder, “it would have been a different story.”

Lost & Found — Skiers’ mishaps don’t dampen enthusiasm for Europe trip

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Sarah Riley got a brand-new set of classic cross-country ski gear during a trip to Europe to race in two ski marathons. Justin Moore got a broken nose. That’s still better than Pete Sprague, who didn’t get there at all.

Three Soldotna skiers planned to travel to the Czech Republic earlier this month to participate in the 50-kilometer Jizerská padesátka on Jan. 11 and the 60-K freestyle Dolomitenlauf in Austria on Jan. 18, but between lost baggage, cultural experiences and a Czech Olympic Nordic ski medalist saving the day, the races weren’t even the highlight.

For Riley, the races were going to be her first ever long-distance events, and she was anxious to see if she could make it through. She did, “despite the airport’s best efforts not to let me ski,” she said.

“Air France lost my skis. They said, ‘We have no idea where your bag is. Whether your bag is full of gold or skies, we have no idea where it is,’” she said.

She called her mom, who suggested Riley call her friend, Pavel Nuc, for help. But Nuc, who Riley met in high school when he was a foreign exchange student, lived three hours away so she didn’t figure he couldn’t help her. Turns out Riley and her mom were both right, and wrong.

When she got to Liberec, where the Jizerská was held, she quickly found out that with 4,800 people in town for the ski races and massive airline baggage handling snafus, she couldn’t find any skis to borrow.

“There wasn’t a rental to be had, but from what I heard, the rentals they did have looked like they skied across gravel,” she said.

She found a woman who considered her situation, then pointed to a guy and said, “This is a nice young man. He will help you.”

His name was Pavel, the same as her friend. He took her to a ski shop owned by a Czech 1988 Nordic ski Olympic medalist, who set her up with all the classic ski gear she needed. The shop’s name was Nyc, but she misread the sign and thought it was Nuc, the same as her friend Pavel’s last name.

“It’s like it was fated to happen,” she said.

The race went well, Riley said, with her finishing in 4 hours, 23 minutes. Her ski bag showed up the next day, so she was ready for the 60-K freestyle Dolomitenlauf. She’d waxed her skis before she left for the trip and had no idea if they’d match the snow conditions. They did — almost a little too well.

“I stepped on my skies and they were so fast, I was flying down the course. About 10 K in I was passing people and my ski tip got stuck in deep snow and in less than a second I was like 180 degrees around. I just flipped so fast, but I followed through with the rest of my body,” Riley said.

With her knee wrenched she didn’t get back up to the same speed as when she started the race, but she still finished in 4:01 which put her 17th in the women’s division.
Having an Alaska ski uniform on during the 60-K made her somewhat of a celebrity at rest stops.

“They would yell, ‘Yeah Alaska! Go Obama!’” she said.

People’s overall friendliness was one of the most noteworthy things about the trip, Riley said.

“All the tourism books say to watch out because people aren’t necessarily nice or helpful, but I don’t think I met anyone who wasn’t overly helpful,” she said. “Everybody was just so nice it kind of makes you want to go back. Everywhere else I’ve been they’re not so friendly.”

Interactions with other people were the highlight of the trip for Moore, as well.
“Just to talk to people around the world about politics and history and what’s like in other countries, especially central Europe, which we never really think about,” Moore said. “Every day was like a living history lesson, which Americans don’t get a lot of, so it was probably the best trip I’ve ever done.”

That’s not to say everything went off without a hitch. Moore’s skies got lost, as well. He found some gear to borrow, but the skies didn’t fit and the poles were about 6 inches too short. Luckily, his gear turned up the day before the Jizerská race, although his wife, Orie, didn’t get her bags until the end of the trip.

“Everything she meticulously packed for didn’t show up, but it really didn’t matter. It all worked out fine,” he said. “I suppose the lesson is, carry on everything you can carry on trips like that.”

Having the gear he was used to didn’t entirely make up for the fact that Moore wasn’t completely used to classic skiing.

“It was a four-hour learning event. I didn’t classic ski before this 50 K. I think I practiced for like three weeks, so it was my education,” he said. “Everybody I skied beside had a different technique, so I’d try this technique and try that technique.

“It was fun. I had a really good time. But I think I probably broke my nose. I spent all my time learning how to go uphill and not downhill, so I had four big crashes.”

He got in a few high-speed impacts going down hills in classic tracks surrounded by other skiers.

“I was over my head. I tried to slow down and I was running up on people’s skies and didn’t know how to slow down. Going up I did fine, and on flats, but going down —that was too much. … I talked to people afterward about what to do when you’re going too fast, so I learned a little late.”

The 60-K Dolomitenlauf went more smoothly. Moore saw about 10 broken poles along the course, but none were his. He finished in 3:28, and was resting at the finish line, feeling pretty happy with himself, when his accomplishment got put into perspective.

“About an hour later an 87-year-old man comes in, then right after him a blind skier comes in led by another guy with radio,” Moore said. “That was pretty inspirational to see a guy come in and complete a technical course with no sight. It’s amazing and pretty humbling. It’s like, so what?”

While Moore was getting a new outlook on accomplishment, Sprague was back in the U.S., getting a lesson in overcoming disappointment.

He had planned to go to the Czech Republic for a week do the Jizerská race, then come back to Soldotna so he wouldn’t miss a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, of which he is a member. But Seattle is as far as he got. His flight schedule to Seattle changed and he was only able to check his bag as far as Seattle. He got there, but his bag — with his skis — didn’t.

“It never showed up at the time that I had to get on the plane to Prague. I wasn’t going to go there with my passport and my camera and the clothes on my back for a week, which was very irritating and disappointing, to say the least,” Sprague said. “It just seemed like things weren’t working out. A lot of people said I should go anyway. It was a tough decision, but things were just piling up, unfortunately.”

Though he was dissuaded in his first attempt at international travel, it won’t be his last.

“Skiing for me wasn’t the focus, it was the trip and seeing someplace new,” he said. “I’m going to go, for sure.”

Cool effects — River ice forms wherever it can amid flowing water

Even when smaller streams have a covering of ice, larger rivers have open sections throughout the coldest months of winter.

Stream and river water slowly lose enough heat to the colder air so ice forms in various ways. In small, slow-moving streams, ice often forms a layer on top of the stream just like it forms on top of lakes. The ice covering the stream tends to be thinner than ice found on lakes because of the moving water underneath. And during winter months, stream levels usually drop and the ice may end up covering an air space with the flowing stream below. Because of the air space between ice and flowing water, the ice doesn’t get any thicker.

In larger, faster streams, the first ice to form is along the slow-moving edges. When the river water gets more uniformly colder, frazil ice forms, and it looks like slush in the water. Winter steelhead fishermen sometimes see what looks like blobs of snow floating downstream. This is frazil ice being formed in the moving, super cooled water, probably right before their eyes. This slushlike ice gets thicker and packs together until it collects on the sides, bottom and top surface of the channel. If you are seeing frazil ice forming in your favorite trout stream, it’s time to put the fly rod away for the season.

Newly formed stream ice tends to block off parts of the channel, but water remains free-flowing in some sections all winter long. Since many streams receive their water from lake outflow, like the Kenai River below Kenai Lake or Skilak Lake, much of the water is too warm to immediately form ice. This is why we frequently see open water under the bridge between Kenai Lake and the start of the Kenai River.

Another major source of water for winter streams is groundwater. Groundwater, by definition, has not been exposed to colder air and is considerably warmer than the rest of the water in the stream. So, we often end up with warmer water flowing between and underneath layers of ice. These flowing channel areas and deeper areas of liquid water are the critical wintertime refuge for resident populations of grayling, trout and whitefish.

When exposed sections of stream water gets very close to freezing, such as later in the winter months, another kind of ice may form. Usually at night or early morning when air temperatures are at their coldest, anchor ice can form. This type of ice looks like a clear layer of ice covering the bottom of the stream. The anchor ice layer may temporarily restrict or block off some of the under-the-ice channels that were flowing previously.

The flowing water can’t descend through the sediment and can’t move laterally so it breaks through the ice somewhere and flows on top of the ice cover. This is called river overflow.

Because the water has considerable inertia and gravity moving it along, huge amounts of water can suddenly begin flowing on top of the ice. River overflow can sometimes be measured in depths of feet and can be quite problematic for travelers. One might expect the overflow to immediately freeze, since it is in contact with cold air. However, if there is snow cover on the ice, overflow water can remain liquid for many days, even when the air temperatures are extremely cold.

Some of the most spooky, and also some of the funniest, stories I have ever heard were told by a well-known Iditarod musher when talking about his experiences with river overflow. In some situations he had his entire sled floating and his dogs swimming in overflow when the air temperatures were minus 10.

In many areas of Alaska, wintertime travel routes are on top of frozen rivers. Most of the time the river ice cover is more than thick enough to support the person, dog sled, snowmachine or even a pickup truck. However, because of constantly changing under-ice channels and the dangers of river overflow, traveling on frozen rivers can be very dangerous, too.

David Wartinbee, Ph.D, J.D., is a biology professor at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus. He is writing a series of columns on the ecology of the Kenai River watershed.

Getting jiggy with it — Seamus Kennedy returns for 2 shows

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Faces will be smiling when their eyes land on the Irish next week in Soldotna.

Musician Seamus Kennedy returns for two shows, Feb. 3 and 4, at The Crossing in Soldotna. The performer has been popular in Soldotna and includes the venue in his Alaska travels to Anchorage and Fairbanks.

“He was accepted so much last time that he’d like to try two shows,” said Mike Sweeney, organizer of the event.

Kennedy has been performing in Soldotna for about 18 years, Sweeney said, mostly in the same venue.

“They came down here and played at the Catholic Church, the O’Neill Hall, back in ’94, and I saw him then. They just wanted a way to get a bigger location so I got them in at the Tides (now The Crossing). So it’s been the Tides and The Crossing at that same location, and he likes it,” he said.

The show’s content has changed over the years, with Kennedy adding new songs and stories from his travels around the world. But the venue in Soldotna and reception he gets when he’s here stays the same. His shows typically sell out, although he’s added cruise ship performances out of Florida to his itinerary, so he hasn’t made it to Alaska in a few years.

“He was doing that and he missed Alaska so he wanted to come back to Alaska. People really enjoy him,” Sweeney said.

The performances are a fundraiser for the Kenai Peninsula Literacy Program. Proceeds from ticket sales go directly to the program, which then provides grants to local elementary schools, like Kalifornsky Beach, Redoubt and Soldotna, to buy reading materials or otherwise support literacy.

It’s an appropriate cause for a performer who’s part musician, part storyteller. Much of his performance is comedy, with jokes, silly lyrics and tongue twisters where the audience is asked to sing along — or try to, anyway.

His musical repertoire is vast, ranging from lively jigs to somber ballads, reminiscent of his cultural heritage from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He’s got 12 albums, and sometimes mixes in songs from his major influences, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the Dubliners’ Luke Kelly, and the Irish Rovers.

Tickets are $20, available in advance from Sweeney’s. For more information about the show, call 262-2906. For more information about Kennedy, visit the Web site, http://mcnote.com/seamus.

Arts and Entertainment week of Jan. 28

  • Artists Without Borders, in the 4D Building in Soldotna, presents a solo show by Laura Faeo through January.
  • Art Works in Soldotna has photography by Joe Kashi and Rachel Lee on display through January.
  • The Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College has the traveling statewide photography show, “Rarefied Light 2008,” on display through Feb. 4.
  • Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna has artwork by Alyse Haynes on display through January.
  • Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has photography by Tony Oliver through January.
  • The Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai has “Facets of 3-Dimensional Art” by Joyce Cox on display through January.
  • Odie’s coffee shop in Soldotna has a collaborative art show by Claire Rowley, Ashley Doremire, Sam Merry, Sue Zurfluh-Mann and Donna Schwanke on display through January.
  • The Soldotna Senior Center is looking for artists to display their work in the center's lobby. Shows are one month long. Artwork must hang on the walls. Call Mary Lane at 262-8839.

  • The Nikiski Community Recreation Center will hold a teen night with movies, popcorn, open gym, basketball and more from 7 to 10 p.m. for ages 13 to 18. Admission is $2.

  • Loraine Larsen will teach a fur sewing class at the Kenai Community Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants may make fur earmuffs or sheepskin baby booties. Cost is $26. To register, call 283-4378.
  • A Big Band Swing Dance will be held with lessons at 7 p.m. and live music at 8 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club Gym in Kenai. Proceeds go to the food bank. Call Bob at 776-5898 for more information.

Super Bowl Sunday
  • Yeah, as if football fans need to be reminded. Super Bowl parties will be held at the following bars: Pretty much all of them. Anyone wanting to watch the game shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a spot to pull up a stool.

  • Seamus Kennedy will perform at 8 p.m. at The Crossing in Soldotna. Tickets are $20, available from Sweeney’s. Call 262-1906 for more information.

Feb. 4
  • "The Secret Life of Bees” movie will be played at 6 p.m. at the Kenai River Center, with a light meal before at 5:30 p.m. Free will donations will benefit the LeeShore Center. RSVP to River City Books at 260-7722.
  • Seamus Kennedy performs at 8 p.m. at The Crossing. See Tuesday listing.

Coming up
  • The Central Peninsula Writers Group is accepting submissions for its 12th annual Central Peninsula Writers Presentation on March 14 at Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Adult and high school writers from Cooper Landing to Ninilchik to Nikiski may enter. Entries are due Feb. 6. Entry forms and guidelines are available at the Kenai Community Library and online at kenailibrary.org under the Writer Group link.
  • The13th annual Winter Wine Tasting and Auction will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Kenai Senior Center, with gourmet appetizers and specialty wines, silent and live auctions and a variety of instant purchases and raffle chances. Contact Marquitta Andrus for more information at hospice@acsalaska.net or 262-0453.
  • Peninsula Artists in Motion’s annual Winter Ball fundraiser will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Kenai Senior Center. It’s a black tie optional event with a catered menu, ballroom dancing with live music by Rob Ramponi's Alaska Swing Co., wine tasting by Bear Creek Winery of Homer, beer tasting by Kassik's Brewery and a silent auction. Contact Katrina Carpenter at peninsulaartistsinmotion@hotmail.com or 283-3140.
  • Central Peninsula Hospital is seeking artwork in a variety of mediums to display in its new addition. Artists in Southcentral Alaska are invited to apply. The deadline for submissions is March 9. For information about the program, contact Leah Goodwin with Aesthetics, Inc. at 619-683-7500, or Goodwin@aesthetics.net, or visit http://kenaiphotography.com/CallForArtists.htm.
  • Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus is requesting proposals from artists interested in creating work to be placed in its new Riverview Commons by 5 p.m. March 13. The installation will be complete by Aug. 17. Proposals must include a conceptual sketch including notes, up to 10 slides of past work, a resume and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Submit proposals to Phillip Miller, Kenai Peninsula College, Facilities and Maintenance, 156 College Road, Soldotna, Alaska 99669. Miller can be reached at 262-0325 for more information.
  • Friday and Saturday nights at The Riverside.

Live music
  • Hooligan’s Saloon in Soldotna has Tuff-e-Nuff on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has the Free Beer Band on Wednesdays and Sundays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has open mic night Wednesdays, and LuLu Small on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • The Place in Nikiski has bluegrass by Them Other Shuckers on Friday nights.
  • The Rainbow Bar in Kenai has live music at 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Veronica’s in Kenai has music Friday and Saturday nights.

  • The Duck Inn on Kalifornsky Beach Road has a karaoke contest through early February every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. with a $500 prize.
  • 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the .406 in Kenai.
  • 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Hooligan’s in Soldotna.
  • 9 p.m. Friday at J-Bar-B outside Soldotna.
  • 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Maverick in Soldotna.

  • The J-Bar-B has a cash drawing at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays. Patrons get one ticket each day they’re at the bar. Must be present to win.
  • Hooligan's in Soldotna has Texas Hold ‘Em poker at 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesdays and free pool Thursdays.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has a pool tournament at 8 p.m. Fridays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has darts on Tuesdays.