Applications for bear viewing at Katmai, McNeil River being accepted

mdunham@adn.comJanuary 6, 2014 

Visitors on a bear viewing platform at Brooks Falls watch two brown bears at the falls and one on the river bank in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska on July 4, 2013. At the peak of the season, about late July, up to 70 bears, not counting cubs, will coexist with humans in a one-square-mile area. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

MARK THIESSEN — AP

Applications are now being accepted for Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve and for the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. The two sites are renowned for excellent viewing of brown bears during summer.

A total of 185 Guiding Viewing Access permits are available for the McNeil River, the prime bear gathering spot, through a lottery process. Applicants can get information on signing up for the lottery at mcneilriver.adfg.alaska.gov or by calling 267-2253. A nonrefundable application fee of $25 per person is required. If selected in the lottery, Alaska residents will pay a permit fee of $150. Nonresidents pay $350.

Fifty-seven Camp-Standby Viewing Access permits will also be drawn, allowing holders to stay in the sanctuary campground and visit a nearby beach area where bears also assemble. Visitors holding standby passes are eligible to fill vacancies in the event that a Guiding Viewing Access permit holder can't use his or her permit. The $25 application fee is also required for the standby pass. If selected, Alaskans pay $75 for the permit and nonresidents play $175.

The deadline for McNeil River Sanctuary applications to be received by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is midnight on March 1.

Reservations for permits to stay at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve opened Jan. 6 and remain open until all spaces are taken. The reservations can be made at recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. AST. The Katmai reservation system is not operated by the National Park Service but by a private contractor. A representative told the Daily News that a fee of $12 per night is charged for camping at the developed site along with an $8 transaction fee.

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

 

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