In 2017, an elevated bridge and boardwalk will be constructed at Brooks River. In this post, you’ll find a letter that asks Katmai National Park to further restrict the timing of staging and construction for the bridge. My reasoning is outlined in the letter. I wrote it because I believe no staging or work on the project should happen from late June to late July or September and October. Brooks River’s bears, especially those who are not habituated to people, need complete access to the lower river area in the fall. That is their last chance to gain weight before hibernation. The current work schedule allows staging and work to begin when bears need Brooks River most. This is not acceptable.
You are welcome to use the letter to contact the park. You can use it as is, or personalize it as you see fit. You can copy the letter’s text below or download the rich text file which can be used with almost all word processing software.
Before you contact Katmai with your thoughts, please consider the following…
- The construction dates for the bridge project are in a federal contract which has already been awarded. If the dates can be modified it won’t be a simple process since it’s currently a contractual obligation. Don’t expect any change, if it comes, to be quick.
- Form letters are easy to respond to, because the recipient only needs to write one response. Personalized messages often require more in-depth responses.
- Phone calls can be more effective than written correspondence.
- Be polite and respectful when you contact the park. The people who manage Katmai are intelligent and well-meaning. They do not deserve insults or personal attacks.
You can contact the park in several ways.
- Snail Mail: Katmai National Park and Preserve, Attn: Superintendent, PO Box 7, King Salmon, AK, 99613
- Email: Write the park through its website.
- Phone: (907)246-3305
And now the letter:
As you know, an elevated bridge and boardwalk will be constructed at Brooks River in 2017. The summary of work outlined in the project’s construction specifications generally restricts work and staging of equipment and supplies outside of July. Yet, it places minimal restrictions on staging and construction in late summer and fall. This will have serious impacts on bears who need full access to the river in September and October. I urge you to reconsider the construction schedule and modify the current contract to minimize the project’s impact on bears.
The construction schedule allows work in the river corridor to commence as soon as October 1. Work hours outlined in the construction specifications also permits staging on the spit at the mouth of Brooks River anytime after August 1. These activities can potentially displace many bears from the lower river, especially those who are not human-habituated.
Dozens of brown bears gather at Brooks River throughout September and October. The fall feeding period is especially critical, since bears are hyperphagic and need access to Brooks River’s abundant salmon. The river mouth provides salmon catch rates far higher than other areas of the river. Additionally, many bears who use the river in the fall are not habituated to people or vehicles. Habitat use by these bears is already restricted by the presence of people. Staging and construction in the fall will further displace these animals. Impacts to wildlife and the visitor experience from staging and construction of the bridge is of short duration, but can potentially be serious for individual bears who need to utilize the river. Bears that feed at Brooks River may do so because they know of no other or better place. For them, salmon in Brooks River ensures their yearly survival.
I understand that water levels in Naknek Lake provide a narrow window to transport materials and supplies to Brooks River, and often this can only occur in mid to late summer. However, this does not justify displacing bears from the food resources they need to survive, even for one season. Brooks River is a world famous bear viewing area. In FY16, the bearcams received 40 million hits. Brooks River’s wildlife deserves the highest level of protection possible. To do this, I urge you to place further restrictions on the construction schedule for the elevated bridge at Brooks River. Staging should only occur outside of July and September-October. Construction and clearing work in the river corridor should begin no sooner than November 1.
I look forward to your response and thank you for your time.