Road Deterioration Hindering Copper River Access

A dipnetter’s group is seeking state assistance to repair a sketchy stretch of trail used to access the popular personal use fishery on the Copper River near Chitina. The old section of the Copper River Highway has deteriorated due to past year’s landslides.

President of the Fairbanks based Chitina Dipnetters Association Chuck Derrick recently sent a letter to state legislators, seeking up to $150,000 to fix the former road turned trail.

“That part of the Copper River Highway between O’Brien Creek and Haley Creek is the main ground access to the canyon where you can access the back-eddies and everything where the fishing is best,” he said.

Derrick says if nothing is done, the trail will become useless. He adds that the Dipnetter’s Association has received positive feedback from the State Department of Transportation about fixing the trail. DOT Northern region spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says officials recently surveyed the 6 mile section of trail, which she adds the agency already considers impassable.

“There’s a lot of landslides, there’s a lot of material over the road,” Bailey said. “So we anticipate it would take a couple of weeks to go in and make repairs, but we think we could with about a $100,000-$150,000 investment be able to make that road accessible.”

Bailey says the work is not in the DOT’s budget, but if the legislature were to approved funding it could be scheduled in for the fall of 2016. The Dipnetter’s Association’s Derrick says the 350 member group has pledged to cover 20 percent of the repair cost.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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