History House depressions in area dated as far back as 1600 years ago indicate the area was used by Native people.

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1 McNeil River 1) Overview history purpose facts- location History House depressions in area dated as far back as 1600 years ago indicate the area was used by Native people. a) Early 1900 s Charles McNeil mined for copper and gold as well as Oil and gas exploration in the area. b) 1940 s People began to be aware of McNeil River as a place to see bears, fish, and hunt. c) 1955 McNeil Drainage closed to Hunting d) 1967 McNeil River Game Sanctuary was established by The Alaska Legislature. e) 1973 Established Permit system to McNeil Sanctuary due to human bear conflicts. f) 1993 expanded sanctuary and established Refuge. g) 1995 Refuge closed to hunting Purpose Facts a) The permanent protection of brown bear and other fish and wildlife populations and their habitats for scientific, aesthetic and educational purposes. b) To manage human use and activities in a way that is compatible with that purpose and to maintain and enhance unique bear viewing opportunities in the sanctuary. c) To provide compatible opportunities for wildlife viewing, fisheries enhancement, and temporary safe anchorage and other activities in both the sanctuary and refuge. In the refuge provide hunting and trapping opportunities if compatible with the sanctuary management objectives. a) Since access to the Sanctuary was restricted in 1973, no bears have been killed by staff or visitors and no humans have been harmed by bears. b) 2013 peak 55 different bears at 1 time were at the McNeil river Falls c) 24 species of land mammals have been recorded in the sanctuary as well as 130 species of birds d) Named for Charles H McNeil who mined in the area and had a cabin on the north shore of McNeil Lagoon around ) Application Process Apply on line or mail 1. When to apply - March 2 thru December - for the following year and January thru March 1 for the same year. a) Guided Viewing Access Permits Guided Viewing Permits allow the winner to visit the sanctuary, camp within campground and attend the guided bear viewing sessions each day of their 4-day permit during the specified time period. Applicants may enter up to four Guided time block choices during the period of June 7-August 25. A total of 185 individual permits, each valid for a 4-day period are available through this lottery. Applications must be submitted by March 1 of the viewing year and are available starting March 2 of the year prior to viewing.

2 b) Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits Visitors holding Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits are allowed to stay in the sanctuary campground, visit the beach seaward of the campground and view bears from the campground/beach area. These permit holders are eligible to fill vacancies in the guided bear viewing sessions; that occur when visitors holding Guided Viewing Access Permits do not use their permit(s). Camp-Standby winners are drawn in the same lottery as the Guided Viewing Access Permits. Applicants may enter up to four Standby time block choices. A total of 57 Camp-Standby Viewing Access Permits, each valid for a 4-day period, are issued each year. c) There is a $25.00 application fee for each person on your application. If selected in the lottery, each Guided Viewing Permit holder is assessed a permit fee of $150 for each Alaskan resident and $350 for each non-alaskan resident. Camp-Standby Viewing Permit holders are assessed a permit fee of $75 for each Alaskan resident and $175 for each non-alaskan resident. d) Applying for both guided and standby slots increases your chance of getting selected. It is very unusual for a standby to stay in camp for the entire 4 days. Talking with the sanctuary manager it is about 25% of the guided viewing permits that are no-shows. e) Successful applicants will be notified of their lottery results via and U.S. Mail in mid-march (unsuccessful applicants will only be notified only by , if you provide a valid address). Winners will also be posted on the McNeil River sanctuary homepage. Viewing Access Permit winners must pay a user fee. The user fee for a 4-day Guided Viewing Permit is $150 for Alaska residents and $350 for non-alaska residents. The user fee for a 4-day Camp-Standby Viewing Permit is $75 for Alaska residents and $175 for non-alaska residents. ADF&G must receive this fee by April 15 or you will forfeit your permit.

3 Selecting Time Slots Guided viewing Time Slots C=clamming; M=Mating behavior; F=Fishing; V=Foraging on Vegetation, Capitals indicate main viewing % Viewing Areas/Bear Activities Time Block Letter Time Block Dates Number of Permits Available winning 5-Yr. Average by time block Tide Flats Sedge Flats Mikfik Creek McNeil River falls Lower McNeil River & Lagoon A 6 / 7 6 / % c V* B 6 / 11 6 / % c VM* FM* C 6 / 15 6 /18 7 7% c VM* FM* D 6 / 19 6 / % c VM* FM* E 6 / 23 6 / % c VM* FM* F 6 / 27 6 / % c VM* FM* G 7 / 1 7 / % c Vm* Fm* Fm* H 7 / 5 7 / % c Vm Fm* Fm* I 7 / 9 7 / % c vm fm Fm* J 7 / 13 7 / % c vm fm Fm* K 7 / 17 7 / % c vm fm Fm* L 7 / 21 7 / % c vm fm Fm* M 7 / 25 7 / % c v f Fm* N 7 / 29 8 / % c Fm* f O 8 / 2 8 / % c Fm* F* P 8 / 6 8 / 9 7 6% c F* F* Q 8 / 10 8 / % c f F* R 8 / 14 8 / % c f F* S 8 / 18 8 / % c f F* T 8 / 22 8 / % c F*

4 Standby Time Slots % Viewing Areas/Bear Activities Time Block Letter Time Block Dates Number of Permits Available winning 5-Yr. Average by time block Tide Flats Sedge Flats Mikfik Creek McNeil River falls Lower McNeil River & Lagoon AS 6 / 9 6 / c V* BS 6 / 13 6 / c VM* FM* CS 6 / 17 6 / c VM* FM* DS 6 / 21 6 / c VM* FM* ES 6 / 25 6 / c VM* FM* FS 6 / 29 7 / c VM* FM* GS 7 / 3 7 / c Vm* Fm* Fm* HS 7 / 7 7 / c Vm Fm* Fm* IS 7 / 11 7 / c vm fm Fm* JS 7 / 15 7 / c vm fm Fm* KS 7 / 19 7 / c vm fm Fm* LS 7 / 23 7 / c vm fm Fm* MS 7 / 27 7 / c v f Fm* NS 7 / 31 8 / c Fm* f OS 8 / 4 8 / c Fm* F* PS 8 / 8 8 / c F* F* QS 8 / 12 8 / c f F* RS 8 / 16 8 / c f F* SS 8 / 20 8 / c f F*

5 3) Getting to McNeil River 1. Charter or seat fare Charters are available from a list of air carriers these are more expensive but may have a larger weight allowance. This year there were two Air taxi operators offering Seat Fare Northwind Aviation and Beluga Air both out of Homer. If you get a permit Alaska Department of Fish and Game will send you a list of Air taxi operators that have a permit to fly you there. Do not delay making reservations with one of these carriers. The flights are scheduled to arrive on high tide, this usually means that you arrive the day before and leave the day following your permit dates. 2. Weight limitations Seat Fare Weight limits including the person this year were 265 pounds with Northwind Aviation and 300 pounds with Beluga Air. Both carriers are willing to work with you if you have more gear, this may require that your gear be sent out ahead of your scheduled time. 3. Gear to take my list is below Mountain House Dinners 6 Jerky medium packages 2 Summer Sausage 2 beef snack bites, cheese, 2 coffee bags 24 Granola bars 24 dry cereal 1 box salt, pepper, sugar, bags-ziploc- gallon & 2.5 gallon 10 Duct tape water filter 1 aspirin 1 Toilet Tissue 1 soap 1 towel 1 Cup, plate, knife, fork, spoon, Paring knife 1 water bottle 2 cooking spoon 1 Tent & tent footprint 1 Sleeping Bag 1 air mattresses 2 waders 1 wading shoes 1 toothbrush/ paste /comb 1 Camera gear clothes

6 4) Costs Total cost for 6 nights $ Application fee - $ Permit Fee $ Air Taxi - $ Food - $ ) The Camp There are about 15 gravel tent pads. Surrounded by alders. A cook shack that is also a gathering spot for relaxing, eating and conversation. The cook shack has two 3 burner propane stoves as well as a large assortment of All-clad pots and pans, storage area for all your food items, as well as camera gear. It also has a wood stove for heat. It is the responsibility of the occupants to keep this shack clean, the other chore that is the responsibility of the visitors is to bring water to the shack from a small creek. All water should be filtered before use. There are two outhouses, three staff cabins and a sauna. The sauna is fired up every evening and used for personal cleanup. 6) Upon arrival you receive an orientation that includes information about where you are allowed to go, camp rules and etiquette, bear awareness and how the daily treks are handled as well as use and care of the facility. 7) Daily briefing usually starts about 9:30 am at the cook shack and will usually include the plan for the day. The trek begins about 10:00 10:30 am, and will last until about 8:00 pm depending on weather and tide. In June the area around Mikfik Creek is generally the area visited while July is spent at the Mc Neil Falls. August is spent around the falls as well as the lower reaches of McNeil River and the tide flats; this varies dependent on the fish runs and bear activity. The group will remain together during this time. June and August trips will involve more moving around while treks to McNeil falls will be spent sitting in chairs at the falls. Distance to the falls is about 1-1/2 miles and is a fairly easy walk. Wading can be a little challenging as the water can be up to 30 and the bottom varies from muddy to rocky. Good waders and breathable raingear are essential to an enjoyable trip. There are no restrictions on the food that you bring during the treks but all trash including toilet paper must be carried back to camp. After viewing the bears for the day you will return to camp, and prepare dinner, relax and clean up in the sauna. Each person that gets a permit is allowed four viewing days. 8) To sum things up this is an opportunity unlike any in the world. You will see brown bears up-close and personal; they will be within a few feet of you and pay little or no attention to you. It is a wilderness experience that is beyond compare.

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