Fee boost proposed for McNeil River, Walrus Island

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Alaska
McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Alaska

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials, faced with rising costs and declining state revenues, have proposed changes to state regulations that would raise access permit fees for visitors to the McNeil River and Walrus Islands state game sanctuaries.

Access fees were last raised at McNeil River nearly 18 years ago and at Walrus Island about 27 years ago.

Public comment on the proposed regulatory changes is being accepted through Jan. 19.

To submit a comment, visit https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices

ADF&G operates the world-renown bear viewing and visitor program at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Lower Cook Inlet. As many as 76 brown bears have bene observed simultaneously at McNeil River Falls, with up to 144 individual bears counted over the course of a summer.  Through a lottery permit program, up to 10 people a day may visit the sanctuary.

The Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary protects some 160,000 acres of maritime islands and coastal waters in Bristol Bay, and hosts the state’s largest continually used Pacific walrus haulout.

ADF&G operates a visitor program, that includes the famous Round Island walrus viewing area, with as many as 15,000 walrus hauled out at one time.

Under the proposed fee schedule, lottery application fees would rise from $25 to $30, regular viewing for Alaska residents from $150 to $225 and regular viewing for non-residents from $350 to $525.

For more information on the sanctuaries and proposed fees, contact Joe Meehan, stateside lands and refuges program coordinator, at 1-907-267-2281 or joe.meehan@alaska.gov