I am not sure if this is the correct forum, but it does concern all hunters and outdoor enthusiast in Alaska.
I am not sure how many of you are aware of the steps the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) are presently going through to limit our selection of motorized transportation we use to enjoy this great state and when we can use our motorized vehicles on state controlled public land.
The following are the current general use guidelines for state controlled land as provided in 11 AAC 96.020, and managed by the Division of Mining, Land, and Water:
TRAVEL ACROSS STATE LAND:
Hiking, backpacking, skiing, climbing, and other foot travel; bicycling; traveling by horse or dogsled or with pack animals.
Using a highway vehicle with a curb weight of up to 10,000 pounds, including a four wheel drive vehicle and a pickup truck, or using a recreational type vehicle off-road
or all terrain vehicle with a curb weight of up to 1,500 pounds, including a snowmobile and four wheeler, on or off an established road easement, if use off the road easement does not cause or contribute to water quality degradation, alteration of drainage systems, significant rutting, ground disturbance, or thermal erosion. An authorization is required from the Office of Habitat Management and Permitting for any motorized travel in fish bearing streams. (Curb weight means the weight of a vehicle with a full tank of fuel and all fluids topped off, but with no one sitting inside or on the vehicle and no cargo loaded. Most highway rated sport utility vehicles are within the weight limit as are most ATVs, including a basic Argo.)
Landing an aircraft (such as a single engine airplane or a helicopter), or using watercraft (such as a boat, jet ski, raft, or canoe), without damaging the land, including shore land, tideland, and submerged land.
A number of us have been using state lands for years illegally with our vehicles and have not even known. Well, I for one have been. I am unsure how long these regulations have been in effect and have not been able to find out either. For some reason DNR has not answered that question in my emails.
This all came to my attention after seeing a post on here about the helicopter dropping in on hunters on the Rex Trail this year. After I started looking into that I also found out they are doing much the same thing in the KPUA (Knik Public Use Area).
They have scheduled a public meeting to go over the proposed changes for KPUA at the gymnasium of the Butte Elementary School at 5:00 p.m., November 23rd, 2007. I suggest all users of state land attend this meeting and make your concerns known.
The DNR is planning on closing the Rex Trail to all motorized traffic during the next hunting season until the ground has sufficiently frozen to limit the amount of damage done to the vegetative mat. They are also planning on requiring all off road vehicles to obtain a permit to use the trail once the ground is frozen.
Neither of the DNR representatives I have spoken with has ever set foot on the Rex Trail or KPUA. They seem to take the word of a few people that come into their offices and voice concerns and believe what they are told. From there they start making changes and enforcing little known regulations.
This vehicle permit requires a $100 filing fee that is non-refundable if you are not approved as well as the following:
Pre-Permit Issuance Requirements: Prior to issuance of a permit, an applicant is required to submit one or more of the following:
Use Fees - The use fee depends on the type of activity, length of use and the acreage authorized for use. Regulations under 11 AAC 05.010(e)(6)-(9) describe use fees for different activities authorized under land use permits.
Performance Guaranty (Bond) - A performance guaranty is held by the state to assure performance and to pay for corrective action if the use of state land fails to comply with the requirements of the permit. The DMLW uses a bonding matrix to determine the amount of a performance guaranty. Acceptable types of performance guaranties include:
a) Cash or check made out to the State of Alaska;
b) Certificate of Deposit (CD) in the state’s name; or
c) Corporate surety bond.
Insurance - Insurance to protect you and the state from liabilities incurred through the use of state property.
Survey - Surveys are generally not required for land use permits. Some authorizations may require a Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the location of the project.
There are currently no scheduled public meetings for the Rex Trail. As far as DNR is concerned it is an open and shut case, and we just have to deal with it.
I apologize for my lack of writing skills. I am not the best at putting my thoughts to paper or a keyboard. Over the years I have used a variety of different modes of transportation to experience and enjoy Alaska. I see these changes and regulation enforcements as a threat to all of us not just certain user groups. My hope is that we band together and protect each others rights. If anyone else has any further knowledge on these subjects please let me know.