Ben Matheson, KYUK - Bethel
Ben Matheson is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.
As the Kuskokwim River king salmon run comes to an end, the Department of Fish and Game is looking toward a commercial chum opening in the lower river Friday. But in a year with unprecedented Chinook restrictions and increased reliance on chum salmon, many middle river fishermen say it’s too early.
Donlin Gold and the Kuskokwim Corporation have signed a surface rights agreement for the proposed gold mine located 120 miles upriver of Bethel. The deal gives the native corporation rights to some construction contracts and sets financial terms for decades to come.
The Bethel City Council has released a redacted version of its investigation into city contracts, nepotism, and personnel issues. The investigation led to the firing of Bethel’s city manager in May and reveals improperly awarded contracts, special agreements, and violations of the city’s previous nepotism rule. It chronicles mismanagement by former city manager, Lee Foley.
After months of planning and studying the numbers, state and federal managers will open the first six-inch-drift gillnet opening on the most densely populated stretch of the Kuskokwim river. The tremendous fishing power will be aimed at chum and sockeye salmon, but managers are moving cautiously to make sure enough king salmon make it to spawning grounds.
Four weeks into salmon fishing restrictions, the atmosphere along the Kuskokwim River is tense. At a meeting Tuesday the stress the closures are causing was obvious. But gillnet fishing for salmon is near.
Four weeks into salmon fishing restrictions, the atmosphere along the Kuskokwim River is tense. At a meeting Tuesday the stress the closures are causing was obvious, but gillnet fishing for salmon is near.
GCI celebrated the launch of 3G data service in Bethel by flying in 6,000 McDonald’s cheeseburgers. The Friday lunchtime crowd stretched out and around the parking lot of the Long House Hotel.
Kuskokwim fishermen looked for some relief from the king salmon restrictions at a Yupiit Nation tribal fish forum in Bethel on Friday.
At Thursday’s Yupiit Nation fish forum in Bethel, long-term planning for tribal fishery co-management took a backseat to the anxiety and uncertainly surrounding the current king salmon restrictions.
A Bethel man is facing charges for driving a boat under the influence of alcohol. Wildlife Troopers on Sunday night heard a report of a boat that was being driven erratically in Aniak Slough.
Officials are not speaking about the recent referral of the Bethel City Council’s investigation into contracts, nepotism, and personnel issues to the District Attorney’s office.
The Bethel Test Fishery put nets in the water five days early this year. With no salmon fishing happening in the early season, the test data will be central to understanding the strength of the king run and helping managers decide when to open up for other species.
Tribal representatives took the first steps on Wednesday towards establishing the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. The group intends to push for co-management of salmon stocks and more direct involvement for tribal fisherman.
On the day that the summer’s king salmon restrictions began, the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group met to hash out the details of this summer fishing plans. Managing a precarious king salmon run along 700 miles of river will be anything but simple.
The National Transportation Safety Board took the unusual move last month of asking the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the Ravn family of companies. A report says Hageland failed to achieve safety outcomes, at the time losing operational control and launching flights without proper oversight. The company’s CEO says the report does not reflect the changes Ravn has made in recent months.
Just weeks before the salmon run begins in earnest, discussions are underway to form two inter-tribal fish commissions, one each for the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers.
The waters of Kuskokwim River are free of ice and at the moment open to subsistence king salmon fishing, but that could quickly change, depending on how many fisherman are targeting and catching king salmon in a year that managers believe is crucial for viability of the run.
The Alaska Alcohol Beverage Control Board says two Bethel establishments have been illegally allowing patrons to bring in and consume their own alcohol, operating as what’s known as “bottle clubs.” But two conflicting statutes in the state alcohol law put certain clubs in a gray area.
The Bethel City Council met Monday night in executive session for three hours with the attorney they hired to conduct an investigation into nepotism, contracts, and personnel issues.