Grant money helps Kern River conservation efforts flourish

    The Kern River near Oildale, Calif., is seen Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX)

    KERNVILLE, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Campers can look forward to improvements coming to nearby campgrounds and riverbanks in the Kern River Valley, thanks to several generous grant donations.

    "2018 has been a record-breaking year for the Kern River Conservancy with the volunteers we've had and the participation from the community," Gary Ananian, founder of the Kern River Conservancy, said.

    KRC is a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for conservation and educating the public about the river.

    The group recently cleaned up more than 10,000 pounds of trash along the river, in the organization's largest volunteer cleanup effort.

    "We've grown from five years ago, where it was like ten people, to now where we're bringing 100 to 130 people," Ananian said.

    And this week his organization received $32,000. A $17,000 grant came from the Kern Community Foundation and the remaining $15,000 came from in-kind volunteer donations.

    Another $20,000 of funding came to the recently remodeled Friends of the Kern Hatchery, now able to move forward with its plan to reintroduce the Kern River rainbow trout into the river.

    It's been almost a decade since the hatchery last saw any Kern rainbow trout, but by next August, they'll be back.

    "This extra money goes for enhancing everything that has to do with raising those fish – from gathering the eggs to spawning them in our hatchery, to raising them to the point where they can finally be planted back in the river," Connie Shepard, president of Friends of the Hatchery, said.

    The Kern River Conservancy will use its funding to educate the public about the trout and how to protect it.

    "There isn't much of an education platform for native trouts on the Kern River, and we're hoping to jumpstart this program," Ananian said.

    A Kern rainbow comeback, at the tail end of a bright year for the river.

    "It keeps Kernville kind of on the front page," Shepard said. "We're proud of this river, and to have a fish dedicated just to the Kern River is pretty important."

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