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Nome weighs its summer gold rush prospects

Alaska Dispatch
Discovery Channel photo

Gearing up for an onslaught of gold-seekers, Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Nome Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard representatives recently met with Nome residents to hear concerns about offshore mining that appears to be booming in the wake of the “Bering Sea Gold” on Discovery Channel, according to the Nome Nugget.

Apparently, prospective miners are phoning any agency with a (443) prefix, seeking information about coming to Nome to suck up gold from the bottom of the Bering Sea.

Each agency said they were stretched, but hoped that by working together they’d be more effective. State DNR plans to have one employee in Nome the entire season. “Our phones are ringing incessantly,” Brent Goodrum, director of DNR Division of Mining Land and Water, told the Nome Nugget. “We are sending out packets of information on the cost, that there is no road to Nome.”

“We are telling people, ‘Your best winter will be your summer up here,’” Mitch Erickson of Nome Gold Alaska added. The company is putting in a campground with rentable space for tents and converted shipping containers.

The Coast Guard will offer dredge and boat operators a week of training at the beginning of summer, providing voluntary inspections to advise miners on safety equipment and practices.

Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Andrew Merrill said his agency would refer boundary disputes and the like to DNR. He noted Troopers do not have a boat for going onto the offshore leased tracts area or on the public recreational mining waters off East Beach and West Beach. “Enforcement on the water is going to be an issue,” Merrill said. “We are working with the Coast Guard to bring in their assets.”