New park bridge in Katmai National Park aimed at limiting bear encounters

A brown bear walks upriver near Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park.
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska's newest bridge is aimed at relieving a traffic jam between people and brown bears.

The National Park Service has completed a $5.6 million elevated bridge and boardwalk across the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve that replaces a river-level bridge often closed to human traffic because it was occupied by brown bears.

Bears catching salmon are a huge draw for the Alaska Peninsula park. The park service estimates 2,200 brown bears inhabit the park.

A popular venue is Brooks Camp, where the park has three bear-viewing platforms. Visitors must cross the river to reach all three platforms.

Park Service spokeswoman Karen Garthwait says the old bridge frequently closed when there was a "bear jam."

The Park Service plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge on June 29.

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