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Low Nushagak preventing barges, fishing boats from travelling

Low water levels on the Nushagak are preventing barges from taking fuel and other supplies to villages up river.

The Nushagak River continues to run very low this year. The low water is making it difficult for freight and fishing vessels to get up and down the river.

Russ Rolf owns the freight company Dun Dreamin. He has been able to get his barge as far as Ekwok, but says the water is very low.

“Well the river conditions are probably the lowest I’ve seen it for springtime in quite a few years. Usually there’s a lot of, lot of water in the springtime from snow and ice melt. But this year, it seems like there’s hardly any water and it’s so low that even where there’s cut banks they have beaches.”

Rolf says Portage Creek, Ekwok, New Stuyahok, and Koliganek depend on deliveries coming up river from Dillingham.

“There’s fuel barges, there’s freight barges that traditionally go up there and bring fuel and supplies from the first barge that comes up in the summer time from Seattle. They haven’t been able to make it and I’m not so sure when they will.”

Barges are a less expensive option than planes for getting fuel and supplies up river, Rolf says he’s concerned about problems for traffic coming the other way too.

“I just hope that the people in the villages that have fish boats that need to come down and fish, I hope that they can get their, find a way to get them in the water, and get them down, that’s kind of what I’m worried about cause that’s how they make their living is fishing too so…”

The City Administrator for New Stuyahok said that so far this spring no barges or fishing vessels from that village have been able to use the river.

Contact the author at or (907) 842-5281.