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KOTZEBUE - Web surfers cruising eBay, the giant online auction site, now can bid serious money on a fish hatchery on the Noatak River.
The 150-acre property, owned by Theodore Booth Sr. of Noatak and Kotzebue, is described on the Web site as highly suitable for development as a hunting and fishing lodge, an eco-tourism retreat, or for a water-bottling enterprise.
Bidding starts at $2 million.
"We took it on eBay to give it exposure," said Lee Stoops, director of economic development for the Northwest Arctic Borough. "We paid $100 to put it on eBay, which was a grant to Mr. Booth. That's the extent of our assistance to him, and hopefully, it will help find a buyer, or perhaps somebody wanting to lease the property."
The property was leased by the state in the mid-1980s for a salmon hatchery. The state spent $10 million on improvements, ran the hatchery for a dozen years, and closed it. The property, with the improvements, then reverted to Booth. It includes a 40,000-gallon tank farm, a modern three-bedroom home, running water and a road to the nearby spring.
Stoops said it was an expensive venture for the state. He looked over the financial records, then divided expenses by the number of returning fish.
"I came up with $50 per fish," Stoops told the Arctic Sounder newspaper. During the recent commercial chum season, fish in Kotzebue were selling for around $2 each.