We Didn’t Build It and They Came Anyway
SourDough News | January 14, 2013
An angler battles a coho salmon in the Eyak River near Cordova, Alaska Photo by Milo Burcham.
About a decade ago, the Whittier Tunnel was completed, making access to Prince William Sound a little bit easier. Soon after, the fast ferry provided faster and more frequent service from Whittier to Cordova. At the same time, improvements were made to the airport and air navigation systems in Cordova, allowing for lower minimums for passenger air service into town. Cordova had already been discovered by the tourism and the sport fishing industry, and now, it was even easier to get there. Tourists and anglers filled hotels and bed and breakfasts in August and September, lured mainly by coho salmon fishing.
Several years ago, a few local citizens approached local U.S Forest Service managers about planning for the inevitable increase in anglers. They pointed out the need to improve safety and sanitation around stream banks, especially in some of the heavily used areas. Of particular concern was the highway corridor from the Eyak River to the Alaganik River Slough. Since the Forest Service does not manage all of that land, several meetings were held with other agencies and interested members of the public to discuss their ideas and issues. These ideas were written down and refined into manageable concepts or issues—such as highway safety or sanitary facilities at Ibeck Creek—and given target dates for completion. These recommendations eventually became known as the Angler Management Plan.
Some recommendations from the plan have already been accomplished, such as no fishing from the highway bridges, providing fish cleaning tables, increasing communication with anglers regarding bear safety, providing parking off the paved surface of the highway, and enforcing a slower speed limit at Ibeck Creek. Other ideas, which are much more complex and expensive, have been identified as long range targets. One example is redesigning the Eyak River boat launch for better traffic flow and parking. The Angler Management Plan only makes recommendations, it does not require that any action be taken, nor does it require any agency or person to commit to spending money. The plan will be updated as conditions change or as new management recommendations are developed.
Copies of the Angler Management Plan are available at Cordova Ranger District. We welcome your recommendations to improve the safety and sanitation of our area. The angling public has always been part of Cordova and will continue to be into the future. We will continue to manage proactively to keep our land, water, and resources healthy and strong, and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.
For more information on the plan, contact Tim Joyce at tljoyce @fs.fed.us or call (907) 424-4747.
By Timothy L Joyce, Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist, Cordova Ranger District