Notice to palmer flats users from joe meehan
Hey Bud – Doug and I have been reading some of the posts on the forum and it appears there is a lot of misinformation out there. Perhaps you can post the following for me. Thanks.
Duck Hunters – in reading over this forum, it appears that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there concerning our management of the Palmer Hay Flats refuge. Obviously we need to a better job of getting that information out to you. However, I also want to point out that it is your responsibility to find out what the rules are before engaging in an activity on public lands. With some fear of being deluged with emails and phone calls, I wanted to provide you with my contact information so we can better help answer your questions. If you would like to have a respectful and constructive dialog, please don’t hesitate to contact me or our staff in the Palmer office.
In the meantime, let me try to clear up some items:
1. We are mandated to manage our state lands and wildlife for all users (consumptive, non-consumptive and everything in-between). As you know, ADF&G’s emphasis has been (and will continue to be) on hunting, trapping and fishing but we do live in changing times (and yes, Alaska and the Mat-Su is changing, like it or not) and many other interests in wildlife have emerged in the past decades. Also, many of us that hunt have also become more involved in providing opportunities to enjoy wildlife that don’t necessarily involve hunting. This is not a bad thing, we are very fortunate to have other segments of our society that will help protect wildlife populations and wildlife habitat (remember that nationally the numbers of hunters is declining). The largest threat to wildlife nationwide is the loss of habitat, and the more people enjoying wildlife in any capacity, are more people to help drive our political and social institutions to protect wildlife habitat, for all users. This isn’t an “us vs. them” issue, we need to work together. Please look at the bigger picture.
2. The Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats is clearly not an “anti-hunting” organization. Several of their board members are (or have been) registered guides, several are out hunting in the fall each year (makes it hard for them sometimes to get quorum for board meetings), and clearly many of their projects (which we work together accomplishing) are often primarily for the benefit of hunters and anglers (who else do you think uses the toilet at Cottonwood Creek?). More active duck hunters as members, volunteers and board members are always welcome.
3. Temporary portable duck blinds are allowed.
4. Hardened, lumber constructed blinds are not allowed.
5. Camping for up to 2 weeks at one site is allowed.
6. Camping for up to 2 weeks at one site with a hardened structure (tent platform, etc) may be allowed but requires a permit (no charge) and the hardened structure must be removed after 2 weeks.
7. The existing trespass cabins (duck shacks) were grandfathered in during the 1980’s for the life of the original applicants. When they pass away, or no longer want to use them, the cabins need to be removed or revert to the state for possible use as public use cabins.
8. We have been considering constructing publically owned blinds and/or cabins for use by the general public (that means everyone) under a system that allows all hunters equal access (not just a select few). Our primary roadblock is the lack of funding to construct and maintain these and the lack of staff to manage such a program (we are also looking into this type of program in the Susitna Flats refuge). Plus, we are not sure what the public interest for this is (we could really use help and support from the duck hunting community – you guys really need to be engaged, if not involved).
9. We have removed a number of illegal trespass camps and blinds from the refuge over the past several years. These have mostly involved abandoned camps that have been discarded for several years with tents, tarps, camp gear, fuel, cooking stoves, pots and pans, clothing, boots, food, and everything else involved in a long-term camp destroyed and scattered by wildlife and the elements (these were basically heaps of trash). The same goes for many blinds – we have primarily targeted the abandoned or collapsed blinds that consisted of heaps of lumber, shipping pallets, styrofoam floats, netting, beer bottles and heaps of miscellaneous garbage hauled to these sites over the years. If anyone wants some photos of these garbage piles, we’ll gladly supply them.
10. Working with the BLM (who still owns some lands within the refuge until transferred to the state), we have been posting the illegal blinds that appear to be maintained and functional so the owners can remove them. However, now that hunting season is over we will remove any of those remaining. As many of you have pointed out, privately owned blinds tend to exclude public users and as we have seen, many are eventually abandoned and then turn into heaps of garbage.
11. Hunting at access points (including Reflections Lake) is allowed (provided you are not shooting across a road or trail); however, target shooting within ˝ mile of the access point is prohibited. Duck hunting on the lake is allowed as is shooting a moose 20 feet away from a parking lot (provided all other applicable laws are being followed). As you know, these access sites were once abused dumping and shooting areas. At Reflections Lake alone, the BLM and state have spent upwards of $1 million cleaning us garbage, vehicles, hazardous wastes and dealing with the lead contamination from target shooting. Those funds could have been better spent elsewhere.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion. Remember: get involved and work together. Thank you.
--Joe Meehan, ADF&G Lands & Refuge Program Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org; (907) 267-2281.
Joe Meehan, Statewide Program Coordinator
Lands and Refuge Program
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Division of Wildlife Conservation
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99518
tel: (907) 267-2281
fax (907) 267-2433
ADF&G on the web: www.adfg.alaska.gov
Get out and enjoy your public lands, visit:
Joe, Thanks for the post and the update from your end. I am sure it will help clear up some of the confusion. One comment I would like to make is my concern for the camping and the burning of pallets (nails everywhere) at the launch area on the Kinik River access at the Glenn highway bridge. I launch there all season and it is sometimes a problem with campers and partiers set up right where we back into the water. Can we get that area a "no fires and no camping area" or if it already is, how do we get enforcement? Thanks again, Duckdon
Hey Bud, thanks for posting that.
Originally Posted by akblackdawg
It is already illegal to use pallets for firewood in the Knik Public Use Area. See this list that resulted from the area being turned into a public use area. If you read the management plan you cannot have a fire larger than four feet in diameter. This would also be fined under "unauthorised fire" clause. A large pallet fire would result in two fines for a total of $100.
Originally Posted by Duckdon
Since the area from below the Glenn Highway bridge way up the river was converted into a PUA a few years ago the Troopers and DNR have been able to secure additional money for enforcement. There is supposed to be a full time DNR person in the summer and two extra troopers patrolling. The Knik launch would seem to be a no brainer for checking on people daily as would Maud Road, but they might be spending way more time out at the Jim Creek problem area.
I have also had issues with people camping on the Mud Lake launch blocking the ramp. I think the only way Joe Public is going to figure out not to camp on an undeveloped boat launch is to turn it into a developed boat launch. The engineer part of me is laughing. The construction worker part of me wants it as long as there is an annual half million dollar maintenance and repair option for several option years. And the way the State works on fiscal year funding the award wont happen until late August so I will be making the repairs in September. Looks like I will have a private boat launch for a month each year. Have to think of the public's safety ya know.
It looks like you users of the Flats need to join the AKFPH org since that might be the only way to find out what F&G refuge folks are up to. Or email Joe all the time pestering him about projects.
KRPUA management, regs, and enforcement budget are not applicable to the Hayflats refuge area, at all.
Have a look at the boundaries for each on the DNR KRPUA website and the F&G Hayflats Refuge map. They are miles apart!
Also, Mud lake landing is on Eklutna Native land, also not within the KRPUA.
It would also help alleviate the ongoing confusion if the landings being discussed were identified as the Old Glenn Highway (within KRPUA) or the landing at the new highway (Reflection Lk. area).
Hope that clears some up more ongoing confusion!
ADF&G - Palmer Hayflats Refuge management.
DNR MLW - KRPUA management. separate regs (some similar).
Mud Lk. - easement on Eklutna lands.
Thanks, Robert Howard
Please do not add any more 'improvements' to the refuge. You cannot improve on what is naturally there. That includes public duck blinds and cabins along with trails, boardwalks, visitor centers, gates, outhouses, iron rangers, sign boards, platforms, or any other 'hardened structure' which I may have missed. I for one do not want to see the bureaucracy grow any more or have more regulations.
As for Reflections Lake does the trail not now encircle the entire lake? Therefore making shooting ducks or anything else very difficult without shooting 'across a trail'. Or am I missing something?
have to agree with extrema dont mess with ma nature!!! i can see improving cotton wood ck. porta pots, more rubber mats for the gang with 4x4. boat launch improvements. ( great du project for members and the kids this summer) but the marsh is fine. it has been fine since the ice retreated. thanks joe that was well put.
Message from Mr. Meehan on the "how" to get involved.
Dave – Thanks for getting in touch.
All it really takes is to have a group of hunters that are willing to work as a group and with those of us that manage the refuge, and others that have similar interests. Of course it helps to have an organizational structure (but that’s not necessary) and the two that come to mind are Ducks Unlimited and Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats.
DU in Alaska tends to be more involved in larger habitat protection projects and less with local on-the-ground projects. I know Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats is often labeled as “anti-hunting” but as I said in my post, that is absolutely not the case. This group is a community based volunteer organization and while they do have some overall goals (improving access; increasing community awareness, use and protection of the refuge; the nature center, etc), they are open to projects that improve any responsible use of the refuge, including hunting. Essentially, the group is what the members and volunteers make of it. If a few volunteers wanted to help coordinate a project that is geared more toward improving hunting (ATV trail work, public blinds, public tent platforms (and perhaps cabins), etc), I’m sure they would be all for it. They could really be an asset as they have the community, business, political and agency connections (and respect); a small staff to assist with grant writings and other administrative duties; a long list of potential volunteers; access to borrowing equipment; etc. Of course a lot of the projects they have already conducted (primarily through the use of community volunteers, Boy Scouts, prison crews, etc) do benefit hunters as well as the non-hunter user.
Simply being on their email list is good so you receive notices about projects and the call for volunteers. It will also allow you to be in the loop.
So, the short answer is to get connected, be vocal (yet constructive) and make yourself available to help when needed (and even spearhead some projects if you are so inclined.
Thanks again for getting in touch and don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, email or in-person. –joe