National Forest Foundation

Growing Strong Roots Since 1994 Stream Watch Volunteer Program: Protecting Alaska’s Streambank Habitat

NFF Grant Partners and Projects


Stream Watch is a national award-winning volunteer program promoting river stewardship on the Kenai Peninsula. Founded in 1994, the Stream Watch program began in response to a small group of enthusiastic river users looking to share river protection information on the Russian and Kenai Rivers.

The program has grown to sites on the Kenai, Kasilof, Anchor, Ninilchik, and Russian Rivers, as well as Deep Creek where train volunteers remove riverside litter, install plant protection fencing, complete fish habitat restoration projects in addition to sharing critical information on river stewardship, agency regulations and bear safety during the summer season (June-September).

Stream Watch Volunteers can participate as an “Ambassadors” by committing to at least 24 hours of time each season, or through participation in a “Stewardship Work Day” where individuals, groups or businesses help with a one-day, river protection project.

Kenai Watershed Forum Staff picking up trash early in the season before water levels rise.

Fishing line collected by Stream Watch Ambassadors and volunteers

Stream Watch received a grant from the National Forest Foundation’s Matching Awards Program in 2018. The 2019 Summer Season Stream Watch Program had a total of 1,557 Volunteer hours, 4,031 Public Contacts, 4,258 pounds of trash and 127 pounds of monofilament collected. An amazing feat considering the Swan Lake Fire lasted most of the summer causing road and facility closures, eventually burning over 167,000 acres. Ambassadors and volunteers went above and beyond to engage the public and protect the riverbanks during a difficult season.

Stream Watch volunteers, Kenai Watershed Forum staff, and Chugach National Forest Staff floating the Kenai River cleaning up litter.

Along with engaging with nearly 2,500 river users, an important project completed this season was stream bank erosion mitigation at Soldotna Creek Park. A cooperative effort involving KWF staff, Alaska State Park Ranger Melissa Smith, and volunteers who cabled spruce trees to the stream bank to prevent erosion in an intensively used area. Subsequently, volunteers and staff reinforced 32 fishing access points along the angler trail and manually treated areas of invasive species, Reed Canary Grass, along the Russian River Lakes Trail.

Stream Watch celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019 and looks forward to continuing stewardship education to thousands of anglers and visitors each season.

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