Gelvin’s air strip being restored with tons of gravel

A hundred tons of gravel have restored a remote runway in Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. The Gelvin’s 700-foot-long air strip along the Charley River was damaged by a 2012 flood. Preserve spokeswoman Kris Fister said the landing strip was out of service until National Park Service personnel teamed with volunteers from Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in June to rebuild the severely eroded runway.

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”There were deep indentations and gaps in the coverage of the strip, so it essentially made it unusable,” Fister said. “And they moved a tremendous of gravel. It was a huge amount of work.”

Fister said a helicopter with a bucket was used to ferry rock and gravel from the river to the nearby airstrip.

”200,000 pounds of gravel was moved,” Fister said. “And the rock was loaded by hand into the bucket and then moved a short distance to the strip itself where then it was spread again by hand.”

Fister said the Gelvin’s air strip provides access to the Charley River at point where water levels are generally high enough for larger boats. She says in the years since the strip was damaged floaters have had to put in 40 miles upriver at the Three Fingers air strip.

”Really made the river mostly inaccessible to anyone trying to float with something larger than a pack raft,” Fister said.

Fister said the project completed over ten days, has readied the Gelvin’s strip in time for summer and fall float and hunting trips.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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