- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) - A hatchery in a small southeast Alaska community that closed down under a mountain of debt in 2014 has been purchased by a nonprofit organization that plans to produce chum and Chinook salmon at the site.

The state had foreclosed on the Gunnuk Creek hatchery’s $22 million debt and put it up for sale. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association bought the facility in Kake for an undisclosed price this month, KFSK-FM reported (https://bit.ly/2ovMzNy).

The regional group was the only bidder on the property formerly owned by the Kake Non-Profit Fisheries Corporation, said Fred Parady, with the state’s Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development.

NSRAA has received about 3 acres of land, the hatchery building, some residences and outbuildings, as well as a small hydroelectric power generating plant and a pipeline that runs from a dam on the creek to the hatchery.

NSRAA still needs to invest $2.5 million in the hatchery before things get up and running, said Steve Reifenstuhl, the nonprofit’s general manager. He said they will start bringing fish to release in front of Gunnuk Creek and it will take three to four years before those fish return.

“Ultimately once we modernize the facility we will be able to take 60 million eggs at Gunnuk Creek and hatch ‘em out at Gunnuk Creek and move those fish over to Southeast Cove,” Reifenstuhl said.

Southeast Cove is a remote rearing site near Kake on Kuiu Island. More than 200,000 chums are expected to return to the cove this year and cost recovery fishing on those returns will help pay for the upgrades at the newly acquired hatchery.

The hatchery in Kake started in 1973 as a high school project before community members formed a nonprofit and incorporated in 1976.

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Information from: KFSK-FM, https://www.alaska.net/~kfsk/

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