Tanana River ice from Manley to Tanana not safe for travel

Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Travelers are being warned to stay off the Tanana River from Manley to Tanana because the ice is eroding.

Curtis Sommer, one of the leaders of Tanana Search and Rescue, said travelers should choose the overland trail from Manley instead.

''It's been pretty warm, and there have been some holes in the ice near the trail,'' he said. ''There's so much silt in the river, and the current is so swift that the silt cuts away at the ice.''

The open water holes come and go, he said. One hole about 10 feet in diameter appeared next to the trail about 45 miles upriver from Tanana about two weeks ago but was closed when Sommer went by it last week. A similar hole appeared last year in a different spot, he said.

Tanana Search and Rescue placed an advertisement in the News-Miner and called KIYU, the radio station in Galena, to warn people of the danger.

Sommer estimates that about a half-dozen snowmachines a week travel between Manley and Tanana. Traffic on the river will increase over the next month when winter carnivals will be held in the villages of Tanana, Galena and Nulato.

''A lot of Fairbanks people go out to Galena and Nulato,'' he said.

Racers in the Tesoro Iron Dog Snowmachine Race went over the trail two weeks ago, but Sommer said he's been trying to convince Iron Dog officials to switch to the overland trail for the last two years for safety reasons.

To further discourage travel, Sommer said he also asked Iron Dog officials to remove the trail markers that had been put up on the river. He said the markers are still up.

''The guys in the race are on those high-powered machines; they can just skip right over the water,'' he said. ''It's people after the race that I worry about, especially in the dark when you can't see in front of you.''

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