Story last updated at 4:21 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2002

Berry-picking, fishing provide 'silver' lining
Chris Bernard
Happenings in Seldovia

While waiting for the city council to decide on a solution for the police and harbor personnel problems facing Seldovia this summer, Police Chief Andy Anderson said it's been pretty slow in town this week.

"But that's good news," he said.

After a string of meetings at which an insufficient number of members to make a quorum attended, the council was to meet Wednesday night to try again.

On tap were the questions of whether to replace deputy John Holley, who resigned from the police department to accept a job as an investigator in Juneau, and how to staff the harbor department.

"Well, (City Manager) Ken Weaver and I have been talking, but I have no idea what the council is going to decide to do," Anderson said. "I'm hoping that they're going to hire someone."

In the meantime, Anderson said, he had little to report other than top-notch silver salmon fishing.

"Oh, it's been pretty good," he said. "I got out this weekend on a friend's boat with my 9-year-old grandson Weston Johnson and we knocked them dead."

Anderson said the crop of good weather had berry pickers arriving in droves off the ferry, and Seldovia Native Association President Fred Elvsaas agreed.

"The berries are ripe, and people are picking," he said.

The berry season is indeed an excellent one, with acres of ripening bushes around Seldovia Bay, said Rod Hilts, general manager of Seldovia Native Association's Chesloknu Foods.

Chesloknu Foods is still seeking commercial pickers, and will provide camping for those who need it. Chesloknu, which markets the wild berries, will pay a starting price of $2 a pound for blueberries and salmonberries.

Hilts said a subsistence picking area has been set aside near town, but pickers are required to obtain a free permit from the Seldovia Village Tribe, an Alaska Native village nonprofit group.

"The picking for the salmonberries has been very strong," he said. "People need to know that the groomed land is about a mile and a half outside town, so you need to give yourself enough time to get there and back.

"This year we've had near-perfect weather conditions, and our berries are doing very well," he said. "We do have a security force out there, as much to help as anything else, but they will be asking to see permits."

About 400 acres of Native land accessible by old logging roads and a marked trail system are bursting with berries, Hilts said. Pickers should wear sturdy shoes and bring raingear, and be on the lookout for devil's club.

For more information on picking berries, contact Hilts at 234-7898, extension 39.

Chris Bernard is a reporter for the Homer News. Items for this report can be e-mailed to him at cbernard@homernews.com.

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