This week DNR is having Public Comment Meetings for the Draft Management Plan for the Knik River Public Use Area.
The plan is online at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/krmpprd/index.cfm .
There are some items that for motorized access are unacceptable.
1. Creation of a non-motorized area around and including Rippy Trail, while not a heavily used trail it does provide ATV access on the north side of the lakes and creeks area and was being promoted as an alternate route to the Friday Creek Valley.
This non-motorized area was not mentioned in the proposed alternatives DNR presented last fall.
The legislation does not provide for separate areas for different user groups.
This closing of a currently motorized and non-motorized trail to motorized users is a precedent we cannot let stand.
2. The regulation saying motorized users cannot disturb the vegetative mat deeper than 6 inches.
This should not discriminate but outlaw "any activity" that disturbs the mat deeper than 6 inches
This 6 inch rule is not descriptive enough, is a single 6 inch deep hole a violation?
3. 5 MPH speed limit on McRoberts Creek
This restriction will make airboat access to the lakes area almost impossible for airboats and cause other motorized boats to run well below planing speed, creating larger wakes.
Although DNR says it is for safety of canoers, they state that non-motorized users are a low user of this area.
4. No shooting area established before shooting restrictions go into effect in accessable areas of KRPUA
DNR proposes (but does not commit to) two possible shooting range sites, one on Maude Road and the other just off the Pavilion parking area. Legitimate shooters are a valid user group of the area and we should fight letting any legitimate user group getting displaced - we don't know who will be next.
Push for DNR commitment to opening the range at the Maude Road location, it has a mountain for a backstop and road access. The Pavilion Area site would require so much excavation work the expense would preclude it ever being opened. Even f completed, any shot going wide of the backstop would be headed for houses or heavily used trails.
There are other individual parts of the Draft Plan that you may not agree with, and many parts that you do agree with. Plan to go to the meeting closest or most convenient for you and learn what you can, hear what other people are saying. For the most part this plan will do what needs to happen at Jim Creek to make it a better place. Sign up to speak your piece, you should be allowed at least 3 minutes but you don't have to use it all. If nothing else, tell DNR they did a pretty good job, that is better than someone else standing there telling them they should close the whole area to motorized users!
The meetings are from 6:30 to 9 at three places and dates
Mar 25th - Butte Elementary School (Turn off the Old Glenn at the yellow blinker at the cafe, the school is about a mile down on the right)
Mar 27th - Teeland Middle School in Wasilla (north on Seward Meridian Rd past Bogard Rd, just before Seldon Rd)
Mar 28th - Wendler Middle School in Anchhorage (Northern Lights and Lake Otis)
The comments we make at these meetings and in writing to the Draft Plan are our last good chance to make sure this Public Use Area turns out to be something that everyone can use for their (legal) activities. Historically, changes to a Final Plan (next step) are very difficult to make. We will be going over the club's formal comments at the next meeting (April 3rd) but attending these meetings will greatly help make our point of view known.