An international 2000-mile personal watercraft (PWC) race proposed to attract 1,000 riders for a route from Whittier to Iliamna Alaska in May of 2013 is drawing interest and some concern in fishing communities that the race and its entourage would pass through.
Planning for the Alaskan Wet Dog Race (www.wetdograce.com) has been in the works for several years and the deadline for commenting to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (at firstname.lastname@example.org) for the land use permits race organizers are seeking is Jan. 26.
Promoter John Lang, an Anchorage project engineer and former operator of a watercraft tour company at Whittier, said there have been hits on the race website from more than 100 countries. He said the race would bring $35 million into Alaska annually, including approximately $500,000 to $1 million to each community the race passes through. All participants would participate in a pre-race orientation workshop covering everything from safety equipment operation to wildlife and cultural awareness, said Lang.
Some residents of fishing communities like Cordova, King Cove and Kodiak have expressed caution, however.
Former Cordova Mayor Tim Joyce, a federal wildlife biologist, said he felt that from a tourism perspective it would be good for the Prince William Sound community, but that environmentally he is divided. He said he has concerns about the environmental impact of all those watercraft going by fish and wildlife habitat and possible interaction with commercial fish harvesters.
King Cove Mayor Henry Mack said nobody has ever contacted officials in that fishing community on the Alaska Peninsula about the race, and Kodiak’s city manager, Aimee Kniaziowski expressed concern about putting a strain on Kodiak resources. Kniaziowski said the first she heard of the race was when she got a notice from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in late November advising that public comment on the race was being accepted through Jan. 26. One of her concerns is the demand on harbor services. While it sounds like a great activity, said Kniaziowski, the boat slips at Kodiak’s harbor are spoken for and she wonders where all those watercraft and support vessels would be parked.