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Division of Forestry in McGrath

State of Alaska, Division of Forestry - Southwest Area McGrath Office
To report a wildfire call (907) 524-3366.

The Southwest Area Office in McGrath, 195 miles west of Anchorage, is accessible by air only. Numerous Alaska villages, mostly situated along rivers, are spread throughout the 66.6 million acre protection. The terrain varies from mountainous uplands to lowland flats. The Alaska Range serves as the protection area's eastern boundary, the Bering Sea the western. The Southwest Area extends southward to the coast and northward to the Galena protection boundary.
Lightning accounts for about 80% of the Southwest Area ignitions. During peak activity periods, the office situation unit may track and monitor anywhere from a few to as many as 50 fires daily. In a remote, roadless area of this size, daily aerial reconnaissance is essential. Whether it's smokejumper or helitack activities, air tankers, or detection and mapping aircraft, McGrath is the hub of air operations of the Southwest Area.
State of Alaska, Division of Forestry - Southwest Area McGrath Office
524-3366 Fireline
524-3010 Main Office
524-3367 Dispatch


Tonzona Ave closed to Through Traffic

Due to severe erosion and dangerous undercutting the river bank, Tonzona Avenue is closed to through traffic from Nelson Korn's to Benny's corner. Local access only by motor vehicles such as cars, trucks and 4-wheelers is at your own risk. Please use Chinana Avenue to access the downtown area. 

No sholder exists along Tonzona Avenue due to erosion from high water, high winds and strong wave action. The narrowed driving lane does not have a shoulder. Steep high cliffs exist at the edge of the road.  It is a danger for vehicles and pedestrians. The public should avoid using Tonzona Avenue.

Type of Closure: Closed to through traffic. Local Access only for cars, trucks and 4-wheelers. Use at your own risk.


Waste Oil Recycling at the City of McGrath

The City of McGrath Public Works is accepting clean, used motor oil for recycling. Bring containers of clean oil, without water or glycol, to the City Maintenance Shop behind the Cap’n Snow Center.  The oil will be used to heat the Shop with a new, waste-oil heater. This energy-efficient heater was purchased through a grant from the Alaska Energy Authority to reduce the City’s heating fuel costs.


Infrastructure Improvement Projects

The City of McGrath is always looking to the future and striving to improve public services. Because the revenue for our town is very limited, public and private grants are sought to fund major projects.

The Alaska Energy Authority funded a recently completed, energy audit that lead to an extensive grant project installing energy saving LED street lights, and LED light at the landfill burn-box, LED lights for the McGrath School, and both LED lights and an energy saving hot water heater for the Cap’n Snow Center. 

Currently, a USDA Rural Development grant through the State of Alaska, managed by the Village Safe Water Program, is finishing up a new water treatment plant. This project built a completely new, state-of-the-art, water treatment system involving new types of computerized and mechanized equipment, new pumps, piping and structures to produce clean drinking water from the Kuskokwim River.

A new initiative from the City has begun to improve the trail system in and around McGrath and the traditional trails to the surrounding communities of Nikolai and Takotna.  The National Parks Service Alaska Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program helped the McGrath Trail Committee identify and prioritize thirteen different trails.  Information about these trails was published in a McGrath Community Trails Plan that is necessary to seek grant funding and guide trail improvements.

The City was successful securing Federal and State funding to continue building emergency erosion control structures along the Kuskokwim through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Dangerous erosion along the riverbank will be addressed by the construction of four large rock barb structures that will slow and redirect the current away from the bank. The rock barbs will be located approximately every 500 feet starting below the Cap’n Snow Center down to B Street. A large, rock, revetment extension will also be constructed at the boat launch / log haul-out. While these features will be lost the revetment extension will stop the erosion and prevent the river from caring a channel further into this section of McGrath.

These projects take years to plan and longer to find funding. Several other things in the works such as a long-range plan to repair and upgrade the aging piped water distribution system. This project is in line waiting for federal and state funding. There are other grants that have been submitted and more still in the idea stage.


A New Road Grader for the City

The City of McGrath recently obtained a road grader from the State of Alaska Department of Transportation surplus. This Champion is a “champ” at plowing snow and will keep the roads in better shape in the summer. The heated cab in this model makes work at 5am a little warmer for Tom Parker who is out early on snowy mornings plowing the roads.


City Council Members Needed!

Here’s a quick overview of the roles of the City Council:  Members volunteer their time to act on behalf of all McGrath residents for the good of the entire community. The Council plans for the future well-being of McGrath by determining what services are needed and what can be provided. Council considers issues, proposals and projects throughout the year. These may be referred to a Committee for further public discussion. Committees make recommendations. Council works with City staff to plan future activities, projects, budgeting funds and establishing policies.

Does serving on the City Council interest you? If so, contact the City office at 524-3825. Election Day is the first Tuesday in October. Any seats not filled during the election may be appointed. Appointed seats serve until the next election.

Seats and Terms

Ralph Morgan, Mayor (seat expires October 2018)
Mike Tierney, Vice-Mayor (appointment expires October 2018)
Steffen Strick (appointment expires October 2018)
Craig Losby (seat expires October 2019)
Barbara Deardorff (seat expires October 2020)
Open seat
Open seat


The City of McGrath has earned the Platinum Safety Award

The City of McGrath has earned the Platinum Safety Award, the highest ranking annual safety award, by our insurer, the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association. The City of McGrath constantly works to reduce safety risks and maintain a safe environment for our citizens, our employees and our visitors. Staff participate in monthly Safety Training and regular safety briefings.