The 50-year-old Indian River foot bridge will be closed from May 8th to August 15th. In its stead, the Sitka National Historical Park is building a wider bridge – 7 feet wide – with a similar design. (Photo courtesy of SNHP)

A popular bridge for salmon viewing is getting a makeover and will be closed for the summer. The Sitka National Historical Park is replacing the footbridge over Indian River that links the east and west sections of the park to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Access will be limited this month, as crews clear the area of trees and brush. On May 8th, the process of removing the 50-year-old bridge will begin and continue through August 15th. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game issued the park a special permit to complete in-water work during that window of time.

Park Ranger Erin Fulton says the goal is to complete major construction before the salmon spawn. “We have to have this stuff done before salmon really start coming in to spawn because we really don’t want to disturb them at all. When the bridge is completed, it will be a similar design to what we currently have. It will be about twice as wide though, so will have greater ease for pedestrian traffic,” she said.

The park is also clearing brush to restore a part of history. In consultation with Sitka Tribe of Alaska, park staff are recreating the view from site of the Battle of 1804 to the ocean. The event changed Alaskan history and is the reason the park was put into federal protection in the first place.

“At least for us park rangers, it will be better to have this viewshed because it more accurately reflects what it looked like during the battle. Visitors can picture a little bit better what that interaction would have been like,” Fulton added.

To hear more about Sitka National Historical Park’s restoration work from Fulton and Brinnen Carter, Chief of Natural Resources, listen to the Morning Interview from today.