Clarks Point, AK

  • Location and Climate

    Clarks Point is located on a spit on the northeastern shore of Nushagak Bay, 15 miles from Dillingham and 337 miles southwest of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 58.844170° North Latitude and -158.55083° (West) Longitude.  (Sec. 25, T015S, R056W,Seward Meridian.)   Clarks Point is located in the Bristol Bay Recording District.  The area encompasses 3.1 sq. miles of land and 0.9 sq. miles of water.  Clarks Point is located in a climatic transition zone. The primary influence is maritime, although the arctic climate also affects the region. Average summer temperatures range from 37 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Average winter temperatures range from 4 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Annual precipitation is 20 to 26 inches, and annual snowfall is 82 inches. Fog and low clouds are common during winter months. The Nushagak Bay is ice-free from June through mid-November.

    History, Culture and Demographics

    The point originally had an Eskimo name, "Saguyak," yet there is no evidence of a settlement at the site prior to the Nushagak Packing Company cannery, established in 1888. The community was named for John Clark, who was the manager of the Alaska Commercial Company store at Nushagak. Clark is reputed to have operated a saltery prior to the establishment of the cannery. In 1893 the cannery became a member of the Alaska Packers Association. In 1901 a two-line cannery was built. During World War II the canning operation ceased, and only salting was done at Clarks Point. The plant was shut down permanently by 1952, and the Alaska Packers Association used the facility as the head quarters for its fishing fleet. In 1929, a major flood occurred. The City was incorporated in 1971. The village has been plagued by severe erosion. A housing project in 1982 was constructed on high and safe ground on the bluff. 

    A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Clarks Point Village Council. The population of the community consists of 92% Alaska Native or part Native.  The community was founded on fishing operations of non-Native settlers, although presently it is predominantly Yup'ik Eskimo. The population increases by about 300 in summer months due to the commercial fishery. During the 2000 U.S.Census, total housing units numbered 51, and vacant housing units numbered 27. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 22. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 25 residents as employed. Theunemployment rate at that time was 10.71 percent, although 57.63 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $28,125, per capita income was $10,989, and 45.68 percent of residents were living below the poverty level. 

    Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care 

    Spring-fed wells provide water to the community, treated with chlorine and fluoride. Nearly 80% of residents are connected to the piped water system; the remainder use individual wells. Approximately 40% of homes and the school -- those located on the bluff -- are served by a piped gravity sewage system. Residents below the bluff rely on septic tanks or pit privies. In all, 21 homes have piped water and sewer. The clinic and city offices use honey buckets. Trident Seafoods supplies its own power, and the school has back-up generators. Electricity is provided by City of Clarks Point. There is one school located in the community,  attended by 17 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Clarks Point Health Clinic (236-1232).  Clarks Point is classified as an isolated village, it is found in EMS Region 2I in the Bristol Bay Region. Emergency Services have coastal and air access. Emergency service is provided by volunteers and a health aide Auxiliary health care is provided by Clarks Point First Responders (Clinic 236-1232).

    Economy and Transportation

    The economic base in Clarks Point is primarily commercial fishing. Trident Seafoods operates an on-shore facility. Sixteen residents hold commercial fishing permits. Everyone depends on subsistence to some extent, and travel over a great area if necessary. Salmon, smelt, moose, bear, rabbit, ptarmigan, duck and geese are utilized. Exchange relationships exist between nearby communities, for example, whitefish from Ekwok, New Stuyahok and Bethel are traded for smelt, and ling cod from Manokotak are traded for moose.

    Air transport is the primary method of reaching Clarks Point. Regular and charter flights are available from Dillingham. There is a State-owned 2,600' long by 70' wide gravel runway, and float planes land on Nushagak River. Freight is brought by barge to Dillingham, and then flown or lightered to the community. The only boat moorage is an undeveloped spit dock owned by the City; boats land on the beach.Trident Seafoods owns a private dock for fish processing. ATVs and snowmachines are the primary means of local transportation.

    Information taken from State of Alaska Online Community Database