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Thread: Cottonwood Creek/Palmer Hay Flats

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    Default Cottonwood Creek/Palmer Hay Flats

    'just catching up on the latest discussion re: Cottonwood Creek......... Good progress on a new bridge - long overdue.

    I'd like to humbly bring up a point about use of the refuge, since there seem to be some negative vibes coming forth about anybody other than duck hunters accessing it. There are four seasons of the year. If you only go out on the refuge in the fall to hunt, then maybe you aren't aware that lots of other folks enjoy going out in the other three seasons. Inward migration not only of ducks that stay and nest on the refuge, but swans, snow geese, cranes and other birds brings birdwatchers every spring; summer, families go out to fish, hike, take pictures just to revel in a beautiful quintessentially Alaskan place they can drive to, rather than spending big bucks they don't have, to fly in somewhere; winter, folks snowshoe, ski, skate (yes, on the frozen ponds off Cottonwood Creek) and just walk to enjoy a wilderness experience; fall is pretty much left to duck hunters much beyond Cottonwood Creek. And, let's not forget the wildlife hunters and trappers over the winter months. Anyway, all these other folks - users - not only are entitled to enjoy this piece of their public lands, but they care about its habitat first and foremost, just like duck hunters do. They're potential vocal advocates and volunteers that ADF&G - and the habitat - need. It's the reason Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats (APH) was formed to begin with. A lot of work has been done by APH to benefit users - including habitat around the access areas (somewhere just shy of $700,000K) - but as conversations on this forum have acknowledged of late, lots more needs to be done. So, it remains to be seen who will step up to the plate and work with others to preserve, protect and enhance the habitat. BTW, there's lots of ground work, behind the scenes stuff that goes on before the weekend boots-on-the-ground volunteer work happens. Tracking and holding accountable the *real* decisions makers - admin and legislature - is a big part of it. Before APH was formed, the refuge program was being starved out. That's a fact. It took citizens advocating for ADF&G and holding admin and leges accountable to bring attention and funds to the refuge program - like the toilets and that shiny new bridge we all will enjoy.

    Hats off to all the positive suggestions about remedies for erosion, etc. Let's leave the negatives, i.e., yuppies, birckenstocks, birdwatchers, etc., at the beer hall. Thanks for listening, guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Refuge Woman View Post
    work has been done by APH to benefit users - including habitat around the access areas (somewhere just shy of $700,000K) - but as conversations on this forum have acknowledged of late, lots more needs to be done. So, it remains to be seen who will step up to the plate and work with others to preserve, protect and enhance the habitat.
    What are you talking about? The habitat is the marsh, not $700,000.00 of gravel, boulders, signs, boardwalks, kiosks, gates and outhouses.

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    Refuge Woman, I would like to thank you for posting your comments on the Waterfowl Forum. I am speaking only for myself, but am sure that many others share at least some of my thoughts. I believe that many of the hunters consider the APH just a group of tree huggers and bird watchers. It would be good to change this perspective. I know that there are some members of the APH that hunt waterfowl and trap regularly on the hayflats. There are at least 4 hunt dog clubs in the South Central that also use the hayflats for training their dogs, as well as some fishermen and other hunters (moose, rabbit, etc).

    You speak of $700,000 spent to improve some areas of the hayflats. I believe you are refering primarly to the Cottonwood Creek parking lot enlargement and the restrooms, boardwalk and bridge at Reflection Lake.

    Prior to the improvements at Reflection Lake, I saw often that a few hunters were using reflection lake for waterfowl hunting. Their concerns about the improved access were voiced and they were told they would still be able to hunt there. Now, that area is well posted with no shooting within 1/4 mile signs, effectively eliminating hunting on the lake. Even if not posted, the numbers of people walking the boardwalks would keep waterfowl from being hunted during the fall. We have even tried to continue utalizing that area for dog training, but the distraction of the walkers there make it difficult.

    What we do not want is to make Cottonwood Creek access like what APH has suceeded in doing at Reflection Lake. The Cottonwood Creek bridge has been there for over 20 years. I believe it is necessary for safe access to the wetlands in that area. I welcome the new bridge being put in this summer. I do see that many are against access with ATV's until at some future time when the ATV trail is improved and the erosion problems are addressed and taken care of. I believe that a area very near the parking lot could be set aside and developed with some man made ponds etc, speicfically for dog training. I'd like to see this option explored. That $700,000 could have been more wisely used in hardening and rerouting the ATV/bike/foot trail that goes along Cottonwood Creek.

    These are just some ideas that come to mind in reading your orgional post. I hope that we get more activity on this post and more ideas from other members of the hunting community that utalize the hayflats. Bud
    Wasilla

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    Quote Originally Posted by extrema View Post
    What are you talking about? The habitat is the marsh, not $700,000.00 of gravel, boulders, signs, boardwalks, kiosks, gates and outhouses.
    Exactly the improvements are for people who don't want to get there feet wet and muddy and actually get out and enjoy the resources. I have lived in this state for over 35 years and all the fancy improvements do nothing for the actual habitat just make the people using them more comfortable rather than actually protecting the resource. Seems to me the more attention you bring by adding paved roads and toilets etc. the worse the impact on the resource becomes. Kenai River & Russian River for example how many miles of shoreline had to be closed for habitat restoration.
    Hats off to all the positive suggestions about remedies for erosion, etc. Let's leave the negatives, i.e., yuppies, birckenstocks, birdwatchers, etc., at the beer hall.
    The only negative here is the implication that those of us that are here voicing are opinions are a bunch of drunks with no real solutions to the problem. I have gone and sat down and talked to Doug Hill and called and talked to Joe Meehan, and fully intend to stay involved. I should welcome you to the forum as you are new member. That being said my name is printed at the bottom of the post might step out from behind your screen name and let us know who you are, before rattling the cage to loud if you want anyone to take what your saying with any credibility. I'm all for the resource being used by everyone, but to spend money that actually ends up taking away from the natural habit is wrong. And gearing it towards one select group isn't the answer, but catering to the group who wants take a quick trip down the boardwalk take a few pictures throw their soda can on the ground use the toilet and then go home isn't the answer either, but it seems to continue to work out that is the way it ends up being. You may not like the way I perceive things that's fine, but I actually use many parts of this resource year round, not just the parking lot.
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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    Well after seeing Akblackdawgs post I can pretty well figure out who refuge woman is. Me and my wife have both talked to her in the past about some of APH ideas.
    What we do not want is to make Cottonwood Creek access like what APH has suceeded in doing at Reflection Lake. The Cottonwood Creek bridge has been there for over 20 years. I believe it is necessary for safe access to the wetlands in that area. I welcome the new bridge being put in this summer. I do see that many are against access with ATV's until at some future time when the ATV trail is improved and the erosion problems are addressed and taken care of. I believe that a area very near the parking lot could be set aside and developed with some man made ponds etc, speicfically for dog training. I'd like to see this option explored. That $700,000 could have been more wisely used in hardening and rerouting the ATV/bike/foot trail that goes along Cottonwood Creek
    I could not agree more, We don't need major improvements at every point of entry to the flats. Spend the money on maintaining what is already there and by educating folks of its importance, maybe even a litter patrol to go thru the parking areas once a week picking up trash. I will support any group that wants to help preserve the natural habitat and existing man made improvements. I personally wish we could have just put a new deck on the old bridge rather than placing a completely new one in its place. As it was deemed structurally unsafe, I will have to concede to the side of safety on that one. We need to all be able to enjoy the resource responsibly, and spending money to make access easier doesn't always do that.
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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    I'm still trying to figure out what was wrong with the old bridge. I looked it over real good last fall when it was closed down. I may not be an engineer but I saw nothing wrong with it, at least for foot traffic and I'm willing to bet you could of parked a four wheeler on it all winter and it would still of been there come spring, short of someone stealing it. Progress is not always a good thing! As for noncomsumption users sure they have all the right in the world to go out there and enjoy it, but let's not forget the reason the hayflats came about and that was for people much like myself to go out there and kill something for dinner, feel free to look that up. Having noncomsumption users come in and take it over like they bought and payed for it doesn't set well with alot of us. The noncomsuption people can have Reflection lake we'll give it to you, leave the rest of it alone please

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    Litter patrol is done by some of us already. I know myself and Ak_Marine have hauled out trash on the majority of our hunts. I use that refuge year round, as I live 2 miles away from it, and police it up the best I can.

    Bob, I agree with you 100% about that old bridge. We had been using it for years and have yet to hear even a creak out of it. Foot traffic would have been no problem. It's looking like they are going to put the bridge in a new location right in the middle of where the parking lot is. So that should stop the bank erosion on the side that's blocked off. They can probably reutilize all that Geo Matt that we laid down and save some money, since it won't be going anywhere anymore. One problem I can already see happening though is the fishermen are going to cause erosion on the other side because they are going to walk the water's edge up stream to the fishing holes. The ADF&G may want to look into that. The whole reason we laid that mat down in the first place was to prevent people from killing all the grass and speeding up the erosion.
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    I concur..Sure others use it outside of hunters...but a VERY small percentage.

    Quote Originally Posted by AK DUCKMAN View Post
    The noncomsuption people can have Reflection lake we'll give it to you, leave the rest of it alone please
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    Member thelast2's Avatar
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    I'm still trying to figure out what was wrong with the old bridge. I looked it over real good last fall when it was closed down. I may not be an engineer but I saw nothing wrong with it, at least for foot traffic and I'm willing to bet you could of parked a four wheeler on it all winter and it would still of been there come spring,
    I feel the same way!!!!
    Litter patrol is done by some of us already. I know myself and Ak_Marine have hauled out trash on the majority of our hunts. I use that refuge year round, as I live 2 miles away from it, and police it up the best I can.
    Yeah Im thankful you guys are helping haul some of the garbage out because if you weren't I would have to pickup that much more myself. Havent had to haul any busted lumber or car parts out for awhile glad to see the place isn't being looked at as dumping zone like in years past.
    but let's not forget the reason the hayflats came about and that was for people much like myself to go out there and kill something for dinner, feel free to look that up. Having noncomsumption users come in and take it over like they bought and payed for it doesn't set well with alot of us.
    Yeah many moons ago, we are now surrounded by people who don't have much recollection of how things used to be, not that im that old myself, but things have changed a lot over the years. Yeah throwing money numbers around like they should be getting an award and a pat on the back. While guys with out even being asked and without looking for acknowledgment try to tend & maintain these areas to the best of their physical and legal abilitys. Does tend to disgust me, its always the little people that make the most difference IMHO.
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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