As I write this, it’s Wednesday morning. I’m sitting at my computer watching the sun rise in the southeast. The strip of blue sky near the horizon is allowing the sun to brighten and highlight the clouds both above and below the blue opening. There’s no red coloration but the “white” highlighted clouds do look quite nice!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. With all the “stay home” requests and social distancing and limits on non-household guests who can spend the holiday with you, things will be unlike anything we have experienced before. Hopefully, that won’t stop you from enjoying the day with family and, maybe, a few friends. We’re planning a nice dinner with just my wife and I, along with our three “kids,” Sunny, Lil’ Squirt, and baby Carmen. And, of course, there’s all the Thanksgiving football games to watch!
The end-of-season fishery meeting with Fish and Game last week was a new experience for me. I had never participated in a totally virtual meeting before. I’m learning how to listen and watch when there is video feed. The audio is a given, but the sound volume, at times, was difficult for me to hear.
Overall, I think the meeting went fairly well. As usual, staff biologists ducked the hard questions about why the sport fishery was restricted for conservation purposes while the commercial fishery was allowed to continue normally during the same time frame. However, as one of the commission members stated later, written information provided by the department to answer a list of previously submitted written questions is incredibly useful and appreciated.
I had submitted a written question about the sport fish access program. We normally ask biological questions in this meeting, but the department does do other things as well. I had a problem with one of the sport fishing access sites I discussed in an earlier column and thought it would be appropriate to bring that topic up at this meeting. I was surprised when Fish and Game brought up my question early in the meeting format.
The written response to my access question basically shifted the blame for my difficulties onto the then-concession operator as being in breech of the operating contract. When I worked as an access project manager twenty years ago, contracts were written differently, and major facility maintenance tasks were handled and paid for by the state. Apparently now, the concession operator is responsible for covering these major maintenance costs from a stipend they receive.
The resolution to my particular concern involves the fact that the then-concessionaire has left (the departure is not related to my concern as far as I know) and a new concession operator is in place and already dealing with the issue I had raised. This new operator is a business specializing in managing state recreational facilities, so theoretically, they have the resources to handle large maintenance tasks.
I have also heard that the contract between Alaska State Parks and Fish and Game to operate the Little Susitna Public Use Facility is not being renewed. This same company mentioned above will be the new LSPUF concession operator. I’m not sure why this change in being made, although I suspect cost is a factor. At this point, my concern for the operation of the LSPUF revolves around law enforcement capability.
When the State Parks folks operated LSPUF, a park ranger was on-call or even occasionally on site to handle enforcement. I don’t know how this new private company concessionaire will deal with this issue.
We’ve only got a little over two weeks left in the drawing permit application period. I have held off submitting my applications to hear how my hunting partner had addressed applying for a party permit hunt in hopes of using it as a stepping-stone to another hunt he really wants to try. My mountain hunting days are over, so I was hoping he would find a new partner for his “dream” hunt. He did.
I’m still planning to submit applications for the antlerless moose hunts in unit 14A. I’m also thinking about trying for a Delta bison hunt, but if successful, I would be limited to hunting on public land since I can’t afford the trespass fees associated with the better private land hunting areas.
My hunting partner and I are thinking about looking into the 40-Mile caribou hunt next year too, but that is either a harvest ticket or registration permit hunt, either of which are easily obtained. I think planning a hunt is easily half the fun!