State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Board opens Kenai Peninsula waters to subsistence fishing

ANCHORAGE - Subsistence fishing for salmon and other fish will soon be legal on the upper Kenai River and other federal waters on the Kenai Peninsula, and salmon dipnetters will share the Copper River with fish wheels.

The Federal Subsistence Board made those decisions affecting popular fishing areas Tuesday as it considered a series of proposals from around the state. The board will meet through Thursday in Anchorage.

The Kenai decision marks the first time since the 1950s that a freshwater subsistence fishery has been allowed on the Kenai Peninsula. The board established a subsistence fishery for salmon, trout, Dolly Varden and char on federal waters on the peninsula and west side of Cook Inlet, and opened it up to all qualified rural residents throughout the state.

Big change won't come right away, said Tom Boyd, assistant regional director for subsistence management with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For now, subsistence fishermen must follow the same state rules as sport anglers, according to the board's decision. They must use a rod and reel and adhere to the same harvest limits.

Boyd said the board took a cautious approach because the Kenai's streams and rivers are already fully allocated.

State, feds agree on Adak cleanup

ANCHORAGE - A plan for how the U.S. Navy will find and clean up unexploded ordnance on Adak Island has been signed by state and federal officials.

The agreement was seen as a crucial step for transforming what was once a Cold War Navy base into a town where the regional Native corporation will service the fishing, shipping, tourism and air cargo industries.

"I think what's most unusual about this is the citizen involvement," said Michelle Brown, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, after a signing ceremony Tuesday. "Normally you have the military deciding everything."

For instance, the restoration advisory board identified one former military range as a place where future residents might want to camp or go berry picking. Navy technicians will make sure the ground is safe to the depth of a tent stake.

About 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Aleutians, Adak was established as a base to fight the Japanese invasion of Kiska and Attu during World War II. Later, it became a Naval Air Facility with submarine-hunting airplanes and high-tech listening posts.

As many as 6,000 people lived on the island when it was a military installation. The Navy shut down its base in 1997, triggering a multimillion dollar effort to clean up debris and contamination left by 55 years of military use.

Park service plans $22 million information center for Denali

FAIRBANKS - Denali National Park and Preserve officials hope to build something the park has never had before, an information center to welcome visitors.

"There is nothing in there that really communicates the history of the region kind of the essence of the park," said Superintendent Steve Martin.

The park service plans to build a complex within 200 feet of the Alaska Railroad train depot. There would also be a theater, a modest food service area, an art gallery and a place to buy limited merchandise such as a raincoat or hat. The complex would be constructed on the site of the old 100-room Denali National Park Hotel, which is now nearly torn down.

The price tag for the plan is about $22 million, with about $8 million to come from the private sector as part of the concession opportunities. The remaining $14 million is to come from the federal government. Some $8.5 million has already been approved, and the remainder is expected in 2003.

Construction is slated to begin this summer.

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