KENAI - Federal officials will conduct public hearings on the Kenai Peninsula this week on its proposed critical habitat areas for Cook Inlet beluga whales.
The first will be held Wednesday night in Soldotna, following by a Thursday night gathering in Homer.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for coming up with a recovery plan now that the Cook Inlet beluga whales have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
There used to be more than a thousand of the white whales in Cook Inlet but numbers have dwindled to a few hundred animals.
Other public hearings are also planned, including one Feb. 12 in Anchorage.