Howard Delo

The governor has made another appointment to the Board of Fisheries in the aftermath of the Karl Johnstone fiasco created by the legislature. John Wood of Willow was appointed to fill the vacant position.

I remember first meeting John at the 2014 Upper Cook Inlet BOF meeting. He was a staffer for then-Senator Dunleavy and was attending the meeting to keep tabs on goings on. One of John’s duties in working for Senator Dunleavy was working on natural resource issues and Cook Inlet salmon fisheries was a big one.

As I recall, at that meeting, Dunleavy wrote a letter to the board asking them to allocate more fish to the Northern District considering information indicating declining salmon numbers in that area of Cook Inlet. I distinctly remember a couple of drifters, in their public testimony, telling the board to ignore Dunleavy’s letter because “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

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I remember hearing that Wood went ballistic when he heard that testimony. His immediate reaction was to respond to the insult the drifters had voiced to Senator Dunleavy. What I heard later was that Dunleavy told John to ignore the comments and let things slide. He did.

We had a vacancy on the Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission a couple of years ago and John applied. The mayor selected him, and the Assembly confirmed his appointment. John has been serving ever since and doing an admirable job.

Wood was educated as an attorney and brought that “legal insightfulness and perspective” with him to the commission. He has asked very in-depth questions during many of our discussions on various topics and voiced a mature and seasoned opinion on how the commission should proceed regarding various issues. I was impressed listening to him speak and I think he will do an excellent job as the newest BOF member.

The Copper River (Chitina) dipnet fishery has just started. A quick review of the rules include: the annual limit is 25 salmon for the head of household and 10 salmon for each dependent of the permit holder; only one king salmon can be kept as part of the annual bag limit; steelhead may not be kept and must be returned to the water unharmed; while fishing, you must be in possession of both your Chitina Personal Use permit (cost $15) and a valid resident sport fishing license; you must record your harvest on the permit immediately; and both tips of the tail must be clipped immediately upon landing the fish.

Read the personal use fisheries section in the current sport fisheries regulation booklet to learn all the rules, licensing requirements, net dimensions, and other items. It’s easier (and cheaper) to comply with the rules rather than deal with a violation.

The weekly news release from ADF&G announced that from June 10 to June 16, the fishery will be open for a 168-hour period. The weekly counts of salmon at the Miles Lake sonar for May 27 to June 2 exceeded the preseason projection. Be aware of the rockslide, about three miles from O’Brien Creek, which has closed the road to Haley Creek. Part of the permit fee covers trail maintenance.

For weekly updates, call the Chitina Fishery information line at 822-5224 in Glennallen, 459-7382 in Fairbanks, and 267-2511 in Anchorage.

In this past Wednesday’s Frontiersman, a letter-to-the-editor took Fish and Game to task for their weir on Deception Creek which is used for enumerating king salmon and collecting eggs. The folks protesting the weir made a presentation to the Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission recently about this.

Fish and Game is getting information regarding this issue to commission members. An informal meeting with all concerned parties was held recently in Willow. I plan to go into more detail on this whole issue in next week’s column and include a link to the fish and game website where interested members of the public can review the department’s future plans for this project.

I thought the letter grossly overstated some of the problems and blamed the weir for everything that has changed over the years. For instance, bears have been killing moose calves forever. That’s why there is a predator control program ongoing in Unit 16 to reduce bear numbers. There are also bears everywhere. The populations of both brown and black bears have been steadily growing in this area for some time.

Some of the other comments in the letter don’t encourage a meaningful discussion to clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions. What happened to civility?

Howard Delo is a retired fish and game biologist and a longtime outdoors columnist for the Frontiersman. Delo’s opinions are not those of the Frontiersman or its parent company, Wick Communications.

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