I’ve been away from the list, am now catching up on all the PHF/APH postings, and have a few things to say:
First of all, great thanks to you, Bud, for stepping forward to serve on the APH board and most importantly encouraging waterfowlers to do the same. And, it’s really great to see all the waterfowler related activities represented at the upcoming annual event at Reflections Lake. For years, efforts were made to include retrievers and through them waterfowlers, but none other than Daryl Jones ever stepped forward to educate the public about this wonderful sport.
There have been some unfortunate, uninformed, undeserving, disparaging remarks made about APH, and I hope over time, with your voice and others with open minds willing to become informed, all the hunters will appreciate their efforts made over the years. When I read inquiries with a suspicious bent wanting to know about their “end game”, I wonder why no one ever asked, let alone stepped forward to participate. When I read posts describing a worst case scenario brought on by APH, which will ultimately shut out hunters, then I know this person is completely uninformed. When I read comments linking any conversation or proposals about ATV restrictions to APH, then I also know this person doesn’t have a clue.
In reading Julie – the goose lady’s lament, I empathize. I also lament that I can no longer drive to Wonder Lake and camp as long as I want, but now must share a crowded bus with others who are “loving our parks to death”. I’m sure we all can add our own laments of days gone by to these. In 1950, when Julie was hunting with her dad, the population of the Mat-Su Borough was 5,200; Anchorage was 47,000. In 2010, Mat-Su was 92,000; Anchorage 360,000.
Palmer Hay Flats wasn’t set aside as an exclusive waterfowl hunting reserve. It was set aside to provide and protect habitat for migratory and nesting waterfowl, along with other wildlife and adronomous fish that need its forage, streams and rivers. Waterfowl hunting is a wonderful sport, an important management sport, a great way to commune with the natural world, learn from it, teach our kids about its importance and enjoy its bounty. But, it’s not the only way to enjoy this gem of Alaska’s *public* lands. Those that wish to enjoy it, however they wish, are going to have to share it. The PHF Refuge Management Plan was formulated by a diverse group of citizens. APH was formed by a diverse group striving to find balance in accommodating the diversity of Alaskans who wish to enjoy it while still protecting and conserving the habitat - in addition to cleaning it up(!). Ultimately, in addition to specific on-the-ground habitat enhancement projects, education will be the key to a healthy, respected habitat as the future continues. No one user group can do it all. Birders, fishers, hikers, photographers, skiers – all those other folks out there the other ten months of the year have a stake in the future – not to mention those who care about respecting and preserving the dignity of the past before PHF ever became a refuge – colony farmers and their future generations – Knik-Atnu people, the largest upper Cook Inlet Athabaskan settlement ever found, at Cottonwood Creek – and, yes, those who in the eyes of some only come to be in the postcard picture. They are all entitled. I guess I’m one of those. I don’t hunt (though I enjoy bounty shared by my hunter friends), but walking out on the flats fills me up inside – a warm summer wind whispering through the lush marsh grass, watching my dog joyfully leaping and running like a puppy, walking out among the frozen muskrat mounds on an exquisitely white winter’s day breathing deep, the cold, pure air……. it’s my way of taking what the refuge offers. But, I try not to just be a “taker”, and do what I can to work with others in seeing that it will always be able to offer, to all of us, its incredible, beautiful bounty, however we perceive that bounty.
As to the person who claimed to have observed the “first mile” of matting for trail building, and being rebuffed when offering to help…………that must have been a long, long time ago before APH. In the past 10 years, the only trail matting (geoblock) laid that I’m aware of was when APH transformed the mud hole of a parking area to a decent parking lot then realigned and laboriously laid geoblock making a new trail *specifically for ATV’s* to access the old bridge during hunting season, and replanted the destroyed vegetation. Had there been anyone show up to help our small crew, we would have *gladly* obliged. Bottom line, I guess, is that asking questions, engaging in dialog, and joining with others who care as much as you do about this place will go a long way toward everyone’s goal – a healthy habitat for waterfowl in perpetuity. Assumptions without facts defeats us all.