BSAR Advises No More Cars On The Kuskokwim

Apr 8, 2016

Kuskokwim ice rotting upriver from Bethel.
Credit John Wassilie

Bethel Search and rescue is cautioning people not to take cars, trucks, or ATV’s on the Kuskokwim River. They say the situation is dangerous enough and that snow machines should also stay off the river as much as possible.

Search and Rescue Chief Mike Riley reports an open hole on the shortcut slough to Napaskiak. The hole has been marked off with branches and they ask people to stay away from the area. There’s another open hole near the Napaskiak airport.

BSAR volunteers surveyed the ice thickness around the Nick O’ Nick fish camp area below Bethel. They said ice averaged around 24 inches. There were other reports from Napakiak, further downriver, that river ice around the village is thinning and causing safety concerns for travelers.

Much of the ice along the sides of the river have weakened, causing overflow and hazards during high tide.

The trail markers have been removed upriver between Kalskag and Tuluksak. No further river traffic is recommended in that area.

Harry Jackson from Kwethluk said the ice in front of his mother’s house is less than a foot thick. And the shortcut across Henrietta’s fish camp is dangerous and should be avoided.

Searchers say travelers or hunters should bring rope, put their cellphone in a zip-lock bag and let others know where they’re going and when they should be back.