Cordova Chronicles: Major improvements planned for Eyak River Boating site

The turnoff to the popular U.S. Forest Service Eyak River boating site is located at Mile 6 on the Copper River Highway. Photo by Dick Shellhorn/for The Cordova Times

The U.S. Forest Service is planning major improvements for the Eyak River Boating site, which is located on the east banks of the Eyak River near Milepost 6 of the Copper River Highway.

Located 800 yards downstream from the Eyak River Bridge, it is the only public boat launch on the river. The Forest service has operated and maintained the site as a public boat launch that includes a boat ramp, parking lot, and outhouse, since 1981.

The site is a popular starting point for a variety of activities including hunting, sport and subsistence fishing, recreating, and access to permit cabins near the mouth of the river.

During the peak silver salmon run in the fall, it is not uncommon to see fifty or more boats filled with sports fishermen in the waters beginning at the ramp and stretching several miles downstream.

Due to funding limitations, improvement of the site has been progressing in two stages. Phase I, starting in 2012, included improving the access road, relocating and improving the restroom facilities, expanding the parking to 19 vehicle-only spaces and 15 vehicle with trailer spaces, and improved walkway access to the river.

The second phase is planned for completion during the spring and summer of 2022, and will include removing the current access road and construction of a new access road a bit further to the east that will improve traffic patterns for public safety as well as make access to the boat launch ramp easier.

Perhaps most important to many users will be the removal of the existing ramp, and replacing it with a much larger 30-foot-wide ramp that is ADA accessible and can handle two trailers at a time. The old ramp was about half that width, and had severe drop-offs on the edges of its cement pads.

The new ramp will be located roughly 70 feet upstream from the site of the existing ramp, and will have wider and longer access for launching.

Work on the ramp is expected to start sometime in late March or early April to avoid fish migrations as required by the ADF&G habitat division. The remainder of the project is planned for completion by the end of spring or early summer.