Ship Creek Valley Moose Hunt
I just read in the Fai Daily newsminer an article written by Craig Medred originally in the ADN on October 29 about the damage to the Indian Creek Trail by horses. Here is the link:
I have not seen any comment in this forum yet, though may have missed it.
First of all, I am not looking for people to blast the author, the park service, ADF&G, or the hunters. Nor am I looking to cast blame. What I would like to know from people that were there is what the trail looked like prior to the hunt and immediately afterwards.
If the article is reasonably accurate about horses causing the damage noted, my next question is how many non-hunters access that trail via horse? How long has this hunt been going on?
The article mentions an alternative trail location on top of the hills. Is that really an option?
So here is my point. RMEF is always looking for in state projects to keep money raised here in Alaska. It might be a win win for the public in general, hunters, and the park service to engage RMEF in support of a trail project.
Additionally, assuming again that the article is correct, what about engaging local equestrian groups near ANC for support?
I am sure there are more positive points to this story than I know. I look forward to some positive response and commentary.
I'm no expert on this trail, but I have used it twice to hunt sheep in 14C. When I used it (most recently 2 years ago) the trail was in excellent condition. It was a little overgrown up near the top of the pass, but down in the valley it was well maintained, not muddy at all, and the bridges were in great shape. Appparently none of that is true any longer. When I have hiked this trail I have never come across horse tracks or manure. I'm sure some non-hunters use the trail with horses, but I saw no first-hand evidence of that. Given the pictures shown, I would think that the story was fairly accurate as to the cause of the damage.
Originally Posted by Ak River Rat
The hunt has taken various forms over the years. This is the first time they took the any-bull registration permit approach, thus the increased interest and participation. In years past it was either a drawing permit or a general tag with a 50"/spike/fork restriction.
I'm not certain of the feasibility of a higher trail out of the valley bottom. I would trust those that suggested such a possibility, but looking back at my few experiences on the trail it doesn't seem like it would be easy to do. I really don't know for sure on that one, though.
Hope that helps...
That is a start
Thanks Brian, that is a start on providing us all first hand information on what could be a hunting issue. I started this thread the way I did frankly because I see so many of them going south too quickly.
If there is a problem here, and it is a problem exacerbated by hunters, then can hunters not take proactive steps to help remedy that problem without finding fault at every turn?
It sounds as if that hunt provides some great opportunities for the community. What a shame if it ended because of trail conditions, and perhaps peoples lack of foresight to provide corrections. Hence my noting the RMEF and the potential to find organizational support.
I am also wondering how people did on the hunt, not from the perspective of looking at going there, but just wondering how it all worked out.
Last edited by lab man; 11-09-2007 at 23:18.
Reason: sorry, someone forgot to log out. thanks, Ak River Rat
trail in September
I hiked out that trail in september at the end of my sheep hunt. most of the trail was good, but the bridges were terrible. some were slanted 30 degrees, I actually slid off one into the creek due to the slope. unless they redo the bridges I would not recommend this trail to anyone on foot. I saw some sign of horses in there and not sure if they caused the bridges up to then, but the pics in the paper made it look like the bridges were even worse. If I was to do the trail again I would plan on having to cross the strams without bridges. It was a tough hike out with the heavy pack due to the sheep, but I still believe it was better than going up and over ship lake pass.
Hiked it in Oct
I was in there in Oct, probably second or third week to hunt ship valley. On the way out we passed a team of horses and the lower 3/4 of the trail was indeed hammered by rain and horses, I didnt have a problem with it, just bonced from side to side to avoid the holes. Would've been hell with a moose quarter in the pack though, the mud was knee deep in spots.
Sounds to me like the author hyped that story up a little. How often do you see somebody with 12 horses coming down a trail. Maybe 3 or 4, but 12 that's a lot.
Here's what I observed
I drew the DM446 either sex tag the first 2 weeks of the season. I was very excited that I drew that tag. I began scouting the drainage by hiking up the highland road trailhead and also came in from the artic valley trail. In the month of August I had hiked the combinations of those trails at least 20 times. I could not hunt the first 4 days of the season but was planning on being out the last 7 days of my tag. I hiked up a cache the weekend prior to lighten up the load for the week I was to hunt. Trails still seemed to be good. 5 days later when I came in, the trails were crap. The vertical trail from the highland road parking area was dangerous. The trail that paralled the ridge back toward the lake was OK but had seen some horse traffic but anything vertical was destroyed. It had rained alot that weekend. I saw lots of horse traffic the days that I was up there. Most of the horse hunters set up their camp in the flats at the bottom of the valley. Prior to the season, I had seen moose in those flats every time I went in there. After season started, only two, but saw tons of moose on the montain on the other side of the creek. I only got one chance to stalk a cow but ran out of daylight.
As far as the horses, if I had them, I would have used them. If I used them, I would stay off the hiking trails. I saw a couple of groups use the trails and I saw some that traversed the hillside and did not touch the trails. I respected the ones that did not damage the trails that I had to hike. I had one scary ride coming down the trail one day. Boots were clogging with mud and I could not slow down. Luckily I wasnt packing anything heavy.
Thanks, but with all due respect your response is exactly what I am not looking for. As shown in numerous other links and posts, it becomes way too easy for people, especially those that do not have first hand knowledge of the topic at hand, to conjecture and attempt to change the focus of the thread.
So far feedback from hunters that were there appears to primarily support the article. What does it matter if it were 10, 12, or 20 horses? Hunters on horseback, from the information at hand, were a major contributor to the damage noted in both the article and feedback on this forum.
I would be interested to hear back from people that used horses, not as a means to pass judgement, but just to get their take on what transpired.
I am hoping that somebody sees a need here to at least try and do something positive to correct the situation to protect future access by all hunters to Ship Valley. I will again mention Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as a means to that end. They do put back into Alaska a substantial portion of gaming proceeds from their fundraisers. I will be talking with a contact here in Fairbanks, maybe you folks know other RMEF people that might be able to look at this problem too.
With that said, I do not believe, based on the article and feedback, that this is solely a hunter related issue. Hence my comments about local equestrian groups becoming involved to change or enhance the trail system too. I do not know many people in that area and hope folks that do take an active role to provide solutions. If approached in this manner, how can we lose?
Just for your info, that trail is used primarily by hikers and nto by hunters, though some sheep hunters a d the few that draw tags for that area do use it on occasion. I hunted that area 3 times, twice in October and once this month. The trail didn't seem that bad to me when I used but it was early in the season when I went and of course when I went this month it was covered with snow so the trail was fine. I believe that trail is maintained by BLM and 99% of the time it is in great shape. I've hiked it many times over the years and it's always been a nice trail.
With your experience on that trail, and providing the article and previous feedback is correct, or at least reasonably so, what would you want to happen? Should hunters help restore the trail to a better condition? Is there an alternate route that would hold up better under the same conditions? Since you are in that area, and my live close to it, who would you engage to try and find solutions?
If the trail was indeed damaged by the horses I would think that it would be the right thing for them to do to come back and fix it in the spring. Hikers and hunters aren't going to damage that trail that extensively. BLM will probably come back in there and fix it first chance they get and they'll probably keep it off limits to horses. There are other access sites to Ship Creek Valley on the other side but i've never been over there to know where they are.
Are you sure that the BLM maintains that trail? It's on state park land, and usually the BLM only deals with Federal land. Our state park system has pretty limited funding and spends very little of that money on trail maintenance.
No, i'm not sure, thats why I wrote that "I believe the trail is maintained by BLM", it was an uneducated guess. All I know for sure is that it IS maintained my someone because everytime I have hiked it it has been in excellent shape.
Chugach State Park........
Originally Posted by AkHunter45