BETHEL (AP) -- Southwest Alaska residents are opposing a fishing guide's plan to run a fly-in camp on the Holitna River that would cater to hunters and catch-and-release fly fishermen.
The opponents say the fishing operation could disturb spawning grounds for chum and king salmon.
Money Ford, owner of Beaverhead Guide Service in Port Alsworth, asked the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to lease him an acre of land on the Holitna for the commercial fishing and hunting operation.
The river is about 140 miles east of Bethel. More than a dozen villages along the Kuskokwim River use the Holitna for their subsistence hunting and fishing needs.
Residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta say they are upset that the Department of Natural Resources would consider allowing a commercial fishing and hunting outfit to take fishermen out into shallow spawning grounds by jet boat when basic subsistence needs in the region are currently not being met.
''Where the base camp is proposed is actually fairly deep,'' Charlie Burkey, Bethel fish biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, told the Tundra Drums.
''But the shallow tributary areas around the base camp where most of the fishing is done does concern me because that area is a spawning ground for salmon, including chum and king.''
The Association of Village Council Presidents has asked the agency to postpone action on the permit request until a proper moose population count could be done and a survey of impact on the river ecology, including salmon spawning beds, could be completed.
Burkey also spoke of hunting concerns, saying that people have been coming back from the area without taking a moose for subsistence needs.
Ford said he has been guiding for more than 30 years and has never run into a situation like this before.
''I have never raped and pillaged the land,'' he said. ''This is a situation fueled by misinformation and bad press.''
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