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Thread: Copper River Highway(i.e. Chitina Road)III

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Fairbanks, Farmers Loop Permafrost

    Default Copper River Highway(i.e. Chitina Road)III

    Well the news(on the threads here) is bad...not even passable for 4-wheelers!
    The Chitina Dipnetters Association is working on getting something done yet this summer. We've a Guest Editorial which I'll post here, it is not the final draft as I've got to trim it down to 750(Fairbanks paper) and 575(Anchorage Dialy News) Looks to likely to be published in Fairbanks, not positive on Anchorage paper. Also submitted to Juneau and Mat-Su papers.

    Dear Alaskans, hope your summer is starting well. We
    are the Chitina Dipnetters Association and are writing
    this to bring to your attention a serious problem. The
    legislature recently provided funding for access for
    Alaskans and their families to their resources at the
    Chitina Personal Use Fishery (dipnetting) to the tune
    of over $700,000 and the Governor has signed this
    bill. However somewhere between the the legislatures'
    funding, their intent and the practical need to
    re-open access for Alaskans to their Resources is a
    'washout' of will and effort yet to be bridged,
    leaving thousands of Alaskans and their families
    stranded on the wrong side of their resources.
    In 2006 over 7,000 Alaskans received permits to
    dipnet at Chitina, providing food, culture, and a
    "Green" activity for themselves and their families.
    Last fall record rainfall(the same rains which shut
    down the Richardson Highway for weeks) caused new
    problems on the "Copper River Highway". (DOT's
    official designation but a far cry from the reality of
    the "Chitina Road" which we will refer to it as from
    here on) The Chitina Road has not seen any maintenance
    under the past two Governors yet it was driveable to
    able and careful Alaskans up to and through last
    summer. The current state of the road is extremely
    rough and undriveable beyond O'Brien Creek.(DOT has
    done a good amount of work up to and including at
    O'Brien Creek this year but has stalled out at going
    further) The CDA seeks to have the road re-opened
    throughout all of the Chitina Personal Use Fishery,
    allowing for vehicle access now denied over much of
    the most productive salmon dipnetting areas.
    For those unfamiliar with Chitina, the Copper
    River, and the art of dipnetting, beyond O'Brien Creek
    the Copper River narrows into a canyon(Woods Canyon)
    which increases the current and thus the migrating
    salmon seek the easiest way up river by going nearest
    the shore, among eddies and backwashes, and out of the
    overwhelming current. Fortunately they are within
    reach of dipnetter's long handled dipnets.
    Alaskans seeking those salmon must be able to get
    to the canyon and as the canyon forces the Copper
    River into a narrower and stronger current it also
    gives the old Copper River Railroad and current
    "Copper River Highway" or Chitina Road large areas of
    steep up sloop loaded with loose rock and silt. The
    record rains of last fall brought down some of this
    onto the road. We have the confidence in the personal
    at DOT to do the work needed to provide safe seasonal
    access. At this point and with no change directed from
    the administration of Governor Palin, vehicle access
    to all of the Canyon and the most productive
    dipnetting areas will be denied to Alaskan's and their
    We at CDA reject the argument that it is a task
    beyond DOT's ability or funding to re-open this road
    to seasonal access for Alaskans and their families.
    The position given by some at DOT that it would take
    millions of dollars to fix any number of areas is
    based on a misleading or erroneously applied premise.
    By using standards more applicable to Lower 48 urban
    Interstates than to a seasonally used "Pioneer" road
    here in Alaska, does give a pie in the sky cost
    estimate. After 20 years of neglect in the early 90's
    Governor Hickel ordered DOT to open the road from
    O'Brien Creek to Haley Creek, the same area which is
    now inaccessible. The 5 miles from O'Brien Creek to
    the downstream border of the fishery on the Copper
    River, Haley Creek, took only two days, a crew of 3, a
    dozer, and a front end loader to open the entire
    stretch of road that was in no worse shape than the
    current state of disrepair.
    A final point CDA wishes to refute is that of
    liability, another given reason for the lack of effort
    beyond O'Brien Creek. The state has extensive Right of
    Way all throughout the state, and on many Pioneer
    roads the state has from time to time done some work
    or "dropped a blade" for rough road repair. Mining
    roads are a good example of extensive state Right of
    Way's and yet minimally maintained and useable public
    access. Risk is not absent at any point on any road,
    especially in Alaska, but DOT can not assign their
    lack of will and effort at Chitina to any unique
    situation not already found regularly throughout our
    rugged State and accepted by Alaskans.
    We at CDA can only wonder why the recent
    generously funded intent of the Legislature and
    Governor to re-open access for Alaskans and their
    families at Chitina is being stalled out at O'Brien
    Creek. CDA hopes it is only a momentary oversight by
    the new Administration of Governor Sarah Palin to
    provide direction and motivation to bridge this
    'washout' of will and action by the State, leaving
    Alaskans stranded from their resources.Well thats it, if you see a glaring problem or error let me know.
    Paul Holland
    Board Member Chitina Dipnetters Association
    chitinadipnetters dot com

  2. #2


    Well done, positive, and upbeat.

    I appreciate your work.

  3. #3
    Member Ronster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Well done, positive, and upbeat.

    I appreciate your work.

    I just wrote a letter to Gov. Palin too. Thanks to people like you, we may have a road again. Keep up the good work.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks, Alaska


    Excellent work Chitina. I for one would like to thank you and all the others who have taken the time and made the effort to save our alaskan dipnetting heritage. I have joined this fight myself, when I joined the CDA a couple years back. I wrote letters myself to the board of fisheries over this last attempt to remove our rights. But its people like you that keep up the "good fight" and remind us If we dont watch out for our rights, no one will.

    I thank you sir.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Fairbanks, Farmers Loop Permafrost

    Default Published in Newsminer(sunday the 24th)

    Well I've already heard from one Legislator in response to the Chitina Dipnetters Association, as written by me, "Guest Editorial" in today's NewsMiner. Still have got to get through to the Govenors office and see what Sarah has to say. Some of her underlings cetainly have taken the position of no work. But our Madam Chief Executive has the final say so.
    Still hoping to drive the Canyon this summer,
    Paul in Fairbanks
    Paul Holland
    Board Member Chitina Dipnetters Association
    chitinadipnetters dot com


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