kuskokwim

Bad ice at the Gweek river area. Photo courtesy BSAR.

Bad ice at the Gweek river area. Photo courtesy BSAR.

A string of warm days and minimal runoff from the reduced snowpack is contributing to the 2015 Kuskowkim mushout. Hydrologist Crane Johnson with the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center says the Lower Kuskokwim’s snowpack is well below average, while the rive ice has consistently measured thinner than normal. Those factors, plus warm weather are combining for a mushout.
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Open water was evident Monday at Brown's Slough. Photo Dean Swope / KYUK.

Open water was evident Monday at Brown’s Slough. Photo Dean Swope / KYUK.

Following a string of warm weather and a beating sun, Bethel Search and Rescue’s Peter Atchak flew a portion of the lower river Monday afternoon in a Super Cub with support from troopers and the state.

“All the side sloughs we observed were for the most part broken up. some that didn’t appear broken up were showing definitely signs of weakened nice and needle ice on the remaining ice on side sloughs. We’ve seen a lot of melted out overflows. All the islands were surrounded by deep overflow,” said Atchak. Read more →

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic Tripod stood tall Monday. BSAR says the river is not safe. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK.

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic Tripod stood tall Monday. BSAR says the river is not safe. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK.

Bethel Search and Rescue is warning people to stay off the weakened Kuskokwim river. Several days of warm sun have made the ice unsafe. BSAR head Mike Riley says the river has deteriorated.

“The ice is not safe at all. All the creeks, and everything else, all the side sloughs: all you have is top needle ice, there’s nothing’s supporting [travelers]. We hope everyone stops using the river,” said Riley. Read more →

The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group put together a list of recommendations for early season chinook salmon management. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group put together a list of recommendations for early season chinook salmon management. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

A couple months before the king salmon begin to enter the river, the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group met to set recommendations for an early season of conservation.

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Fishermen and managers discussed ways to improve fishery management Thursday at the Kuskokwim Fishermen's Meeting. Photo by Ben Matheson /KYUK.

Fishermen and managers discussed ways to improve fishery management Thursday at the Kuskokwim Fishermen’s Meeting. Photo by Ben Matheson /KYUK.

Expecting another below average king salmon run and a slate of early season closures, fishery managers circled up with Kuskokwim fishermen Thursday, in Bethel, to set in motion preparations for a tough season ahead.

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K300 Logo. Courtesy of K300

K300 Logo. Courtesy of K300

Kwethluk’s Cukayuk Olick won the 2015 Camp Out sled dog race Sunday and took home the $2,000 winners’ prize. 10 teams traveled upriver from Bethel to the Gweek River Saturday, camped out, and raced back 45 miles on the Kuskokwim river Sunday morning.
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Much of the Kuskokwim is bare ice, overflow areas on the sides of the river are a common hazard. Photo taken on March 4 by Charles Enoch

The side of the Kuskokwim by the boat harbor in Bethel. These uneven spots tend to be deeper during high tide. Photo by Charles Enoch

Bethel Search and Rescue chief Mike Riley said much of the trail on the frozen Kuskokwim River has remained stable despite recent spike in temperatures, but there are hazards due to standing water, overflow and glare ice. But the biggest problem, said Riley, is getting on and off the river.
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2015 is predicted to be a below-average king salmon run. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

2015 is predicted to be a below-average king salmon run. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The state is expecting a bigger run of king salmon on the Kuskokwim this summer, but still well below average. State managers say they expect strong conservation measures to continue in 2015 to ensure enough fish make it up the river to spawn. Leading up to the season, managers are seeking early input to make the season a success.

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ADF&G will install a new weir in 2015. Graphic from ADF&G.

ADF&G will install a new weir in 2015. Graphic from ADF&G.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will install a new weir in the headwaters of the Kuskokwim this summer to better track king salmon on their journey up the river to their spawning grounds.
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Donlin employees in summer 2014. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

Donlin employees in summer 2014. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

Donlin Gold is shutting down its camp at the site of its gold deposit near Crooked Creek. Kurt Parkan is external affairs manager for Donlin Gold.

“Because a significant amount of fieldwork necessary to bring the project to permitting has already been completed, the need for a camp to be open during that permitting phase doesn’t exist, so we’re temporarily closing the camp during the final phase of the permitting process, and will make a decision to open it once we get through permitting and additional fieldwork justifies the need for the camp to be open again,” said Parkan.
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