Staying on trail may become a little easier around Bristol Bay

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2000

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- An organized system of trail markers has been established around Bethel and Nome to help snowmachiners find their way in winter.

But that kind of network doesn't exist around Dillingham, and a number of snowmachiners continue to get lost every winter as they travel between villages in poor weather.

Sixteen search and rescue missions were conducted in the Bristol Bay region last year, with one fatality, authorities said.

But the Bristol Bay Native Association's Patrick Chiklak finally has been given some money for a trail marker system. The association hopes to mark about 340 miles of trails between regional villages over the next couple of years, he said.

The money is from the state Department of Transportation's Winter Trails Project, which funded similar projects around Bethel and Nome.

Each village will help erect the tripod markers, and each trail will be color-coded, with signs and mile position.

If someone runs into trouble but can find a marker, then they should be able to radio searchers with a position, organizers said.

Chiklak said he also hopes to have global positioning system coordinates for each marker -- eventually publishing them in something similar to a tide book.

Each of the Bristol Bay region's village councils has signed on, and Chiklak hopes to have the markers in place by January.

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