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AFSC Historical Corner:  King Salmon Base (Naknek River)

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unknown buildings on the Naknek River
Early aerial photo taken in the northeast region of Bristol Bay, possibly a Naknek River cannery.
Auke Bay Laboratories photo, date unknown.
 

From the time it was first occupied until 1974, The King Salmon facility served principally as the as the logistics and maintenance base (Bristol Bay Fishery Management Center) for outlying field camps associated with the Auke Bay Laboratory where research activities were undertaken.

Located along the Naknek River, King Salmon's early development can be traced back to the 1930s, when the growth of the small native village was fueled by the creation of an air navigation site. At this isolated site, a U.S. Air Force base was built in 1942 during World War II. After the war, a road was constructed in 1949 connecting King Salmon to Naknek at the mouth of Naknek River in Kvichak Bay.

By the end of the 1940s, the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) King Salmon fish management station had been established on the river at (or near) the air field. The station served as a regional office in connection with the river weir and salmon counting projects around Bristol Bay. The FWS also made use of the airport. In addition to transporting personnel in and out of King Salmon, FWS aircraft hauled supplies and building materials into Karluk Lake and other field camps in the area.

The King Salmon facility was most active during the latter period of federal management of Alaska fisheries and during 1956-60, when it supported the seasonal activities of nearly 100 full-time permanent and temporary personnel.

With a change in research emphasis brought about by Agency budget constraints, the facility was underutilized for several years. The field station was placed in a caretaker status after experiments were abandoned in 1976 for testing eyed egg transplants as a means of increasing salmon fry recruitment in sockeye salmon nursery lakes.

Since 1978, the U .S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been using the base as a logistics center and headquarters for the Bechanof National Wildlife Reserve.
 


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