Our major objections to the Draft Knik River Public Use Area Plan
HB307 was passed in 2006 and signed into law in September 2006. DNR was tasked by this statute to create and implement management for the area. The text of the legislation is available at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/hb307.pdf . DNR held scoping meetings to gather public comments on the problems in the area and determine current uses. The written submitted comments are available at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/archives/krpua_scoping_comments.pdf . DNR then broke the area down into 6 smaller “units” and developed a set of Alternative Management Actions for each unit. These Alternatives are at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/archives/proposed_mgmt_actions.pdf . DNR then asked for verbal and written comments on these Alternatives. The written submitted comments are available on the web at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/archives/krpua_scoping_comments.pdf . For the next 11 months DNR was supposedly working on looking at the comments and creating this Draft Plan. AOAA, Alaska ATV Club, Alaska Extreme 4wheelers and other groups met with DNR during this time to discuss ways to implement ways (primarily the Phase 1 – Area wide regulations) to reduce the bad behavior that gave the area its’ reputation. Apparently DNR was talking to other groups about replacing the Alternatives presented with totally new management actions that appeared in the Draft Plan that was released in early April of this year.
We consider these changes to the DNR presented Alternatives to be:
• outside the letter and intent of the legislation
• inconsistent with the required Public Comment requirement
• inconsistent with the Administration’s “Open and Transparent” policy
The rest of this paper list the major problems created by the “new” Alternative Management Actions, the facts about the Actions effects and our recommendation for your written comments. We urge you to read the Draft Plan before you submit your comments but we are asking you to please make written comments! Online comments can be made at http://www.knikriver.alaska.gov/comments/index.cfm and comments can be mailed to:
Knik River Public Use Area Planning
Department of Natural Resources
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1050
Anchorage, AK 99501-3579
You must include your name, mailing address and phone number for your comments to count!
The Plan creates the “Rippy Trail Non-Motorized Area”, closing existing multi-use trail to any motorized use as well as the surrounding area.
o restriction is outside the legislative boundaries and legislative intent by creating segregated “User Spaces”
o Restriction was not on any of the Alternatives commented on earlier – avoiding public process on restriction
o Closing a “major access route” to motorized use is not what a “Public Use Area” is for.
o All Alpine Units and the Glacier Unit are to be “managed for non-motorized use” – 86% of the Public Use Area (per DNR in their plan) appears to be slated for non-motorized already
o Projection of SE corner of non-motorized area cuts off all motorized access to remainder of the east side of Unit B
o Currently the area north of the area has only non-motorized trails, The Palmer Hayflats on the west of the area is non-motorized as is Chugach State Park to the south
• Recommend deleting “non-motorized area” designation and creating a non-motorized trail north of Jim Lake (if needed) through Trails Management Process as the plan allows
The Plan places a 5MPH restriction on McRoberts Creek.
o Thinly veiled attempt to restrict motorized traffic
o The plan says low non-motorized use, no need for restriction
o References “many users safety concerns” but none were found on written comments of earlier Public reviews – no public process on restriction
• Recommend removing speed restriction as not needed for safety and unnecessary hindrance to other legitimate users
The Plan closes to recreational shooting all road accessible areas (Plan says “may” develop shooting areas and points to 2 sites but closes all areas to recreational shooting).
• Recreational/target shooters are a legitimate user group but this plan disenfranchises them - not the purpose of a Public Use Area
• Either site is road accessible – good, open them up
• Recommend immediate opening and development of a road accessible shooting area
The Draft Plan specifically calls for “non-motorized” trails to be developed in every unit.
o The legislation calls for “motorized and non-motorized” uses be maintained and enhanced – All trail development should go through the Trails Management Process (TMP).
Recommend DNR delete the requirement to develop non-motorized trails from the plan and use the TMP to facilitate all trail development.
The Plan calls for a Trails Management Process (TMP) to manage trails.
• The TMP process as described does not allow or require public input on specific trail proposals
• The TMP can designate existing trails and obtain easements for “specific uses” (ie motorized or non-motorized) without public recourse.
• The TMP is allowed to close “redundant” trails. If two trails end up at one point – one may be closed by DNR without recourse. Closure of half the trails going to one place will double the usage on the remaining trail(s) (basic math folks) and reduce the safety factor of user dispersion.
• The TMP is aimed to upgrade existing trails to near-road status (Trail Class 3,4 or 5).
• The diversity of trail types and difficulty is important to users recreational needs.
Recommend that TMP require Public Input on proposed changes.
Recommend that “redundancy” be removed as a reason to close a trail.
Recommend that TMP recognize acceptance of Class 1,2 and 3 Trails as acceptable states of trail development.
Recommend that repairs to Class 1, 2 or 3 trails not require the entire trail or the repair itself be built to Class 4 or 5 sustainability standards.
The Plan recommends that the existing RST 17 (Jim Creek Trail) be upgraded to Jim Creek and have a parking area at the Jim Creek end.
• The RST 17 is a major OHV access route from the major parking area and for local residents
Recommend that DNR specifically allow OHV use on any improved surface on RST 17
Cut-off for comments is this Friday May 2.
If you use this area, read the plan and make your comments before the cutoff.