Frequent winter landslides block access for dipnetters looking to reach their favorite Copper River dipnetting spot via the Copper River Highway Right-of-way. These landslides eventually made trail access to the Woods Canyon fishing areas next to impossible. This situation, coupled with the lack of adequate fishery toilet and garbage services, prompted CDA to develop the 3 Ts program (Trash,Toilet and Trails). We built awareness of the deteriorating conditions at our fishing grounds in our elected representatives. In 2016, CDA successfully requested the Alaska Legislature to implement a $15 fee to obtain a Chitina Personal Use dipnetting permit.
The annual pool of funds the permit fee allowed the Alaska Department of Transportation to do a major clearing of the road/trail over the Copper River Highway. It continues to fund an annual spring landslide clearance for the trail. It also provides for money to for the contracts to service and maintain the upgraded toilet and garbage facilities.
But the contracts to pump the toilets and empty the dumpsters don't cover everything needed to maintain the fishing grounds. Where there aren't dumpsters, people need clean up their camp areas and pack out what they pack in. Fish cleaning should only be done where carcasses can be disposed of in the mainstream Copper River. If you clean or fillet fish at your fishing area, wash the area down afterwards so bears don't get used to fishing areas becoming dinner stops. Cleaning fish on the O'Brien Creek trail is considered littering and may land you a fine up to $1,000.
Yes, dipnetters do pay their own way!