KODIAK -- A state agency has issued a go-ahead to hold a 2,000-mile personal watercraft race across Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska.
After reviewing five months of public comments, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued a permit to Alaskan Wet Dog Race organizer John Lang, according to Wednesday's Kodiak Daily Mirror.
The race will allow up to 500 two-vehicle teams to participate. Race organizers say a $35,000 entry fee will be used to keep the numbers within the limits.
The event was originally scheduled to begin on May 1, 2013, but race organizers say it might be pushed back another year.
There were initial concerns that 1,000 watercraft and their support vessels would cause environmental damage. Public comments were accepted in January.
The most frequent concerns people expressed were about protecting wildlife along the routes. DNR took all comments and consulted with other federal agencies and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. They came up with a list of questions for Lang to address regarding the protection of wildlife.
"We're putting riders through extensive training before they're even allowed to go through the course," Lang said. "We'll discuss ways to avoid harassing wildlife and avoid hurting or killing anything -- basically lay out all the federal and state rules."
During the race, teams of two jet skis will ride to various checkpoints spaced no more than 140 miles apart.
The race's proposed course starts in Whittier. From Whittier, racers are expected to cross Prince William Sound to Valdez and Cordova, loop south to Seward, travel up Cook Inlet to Kenai, then head to Kodiak Island, west along the Alaska Peninsula and through Bristol Bay to Lake Iliamna.