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DCC submits comments on Denali Trails Plan scoping

October 31, 2015

DCC submitted comments today supporting the existing vision for trails in the Denali National Park backcountry and suggesting that formal (built) trails be analyzed under a Formal Trails Plan.  We suggested some other areas where trails could be developed and gave our position on pets and bicycles.  Feel free to read our comments at the link below.

DCC- Trails Plan Scoping 2015

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COMMENT DEADLINE OCTOBER 31: Denali National Park Trails Plan

October 30, 2015

 Transportation in Denali?
 PLEASE COMMENT ON TRAILS PLAN SCOPING – COMMENTS DUE SAT, OCT 31, 2015

We urge our members, especially those of you with long-term experience in the park, to provide comments during the  scoping process, which seeks input on a variety of issues, the trails vision, formal trails, maintenance issues, pets, bicycles and winter use.

You may comment using the PEPC website, or by email at dena_planning@nps.gov
 

Below are some of the issues and positions DCC plans to raise in our comments:

  • Vision for trails – We support retaining the vision (most recently voiced in the Backcountry Management Plan, 2006) of no formal (built) trails in Denali’s backcountry beyond those already approved in existing planning documents.
  • Social trail mitigation – We support the social trail monitoring program established in the Backcountry Management Plan (2006), and encourage NPS to implement it more fully by 

      –  developing indicators for when social trail formation is approaching impairment of resources.
    –  committing to specific actions it will take to mitigate impairment.
      –  educating bus drivers, guides and local businesses to direct hiking traffic away from more
    impacted social 
    trailheads.
    –  establishing a social trails working group.

  • We generally support the formal trails that have already been authorized – We think that a Formal Trails Plan should focus on taking a comprehensive look at Denali’s formal trails, both existing and proposed, and consider their overall impact on park resources and finances.  
  • Pets and bikes on trails – Family pets, on leash, could be acceptable on formal trails in the headquarters area only, but not the Triple Lakes Trail. Recreational dog mushing is acceptable in winter, subject to impact monitoring. Bicycles are acceptable on the park road, on designated former mining roads in Kantishna, and possibly on some formal trails in the headquarters area, but not Triple Lakes or the proposed Nenana River Trail.
  • Winter trails and river trailsWinter cross country skiing routes in the headquarters or Mt. Vista Rest Stop area could be laid out, subject to available funds. Otherwise, winter and river trails should not be mapped or developed on the north side of Denali Park. All forms of winter recreation must be monitored for impacts on wildlife. Development of any infrastructure to support winter recreation, even if temporary, must be analyzed through NEPA.
  • State and municipal lands at the park boundaries can provide a wider range of trail opportunities, if they are desired. One example of an area where this wider range could be considered is the planned South Denali Visitor Center. Denali National Park should maintain its commitment to wilderness recreation, dispersed, non-mechanical access, and scrupulous prevention of wildlife impacts.
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Denali Borough to have meetings to discuss Agnew::Beck land planning recommendations

September 29, 2015

Color_Borough_Logo_WebATTEND A MEETING AND SHARE YOUR VIEWS 

The consulting firm of Agnew::Beck was recently hired by the Denali Borough to assist with creating a management system for Borough owned land. Agnew::Beck has created a draft report and is looking for public comment on it.  Read a copy of the Agnew::Beck land management recommendations, along with a trove of information on borough land planning at the Denali Borough Land Management page.


To learn more and share your views, please attend one of the following meetings:
October 12, 2015 6 pm – 7:30 pm   Tri-Valley Community Center in Healy
October 13, 2015 6 pm – 7:30 pm   Anderson City Council Chambers (before the Anderson City Council meeting)
October 14, 2015 5 pm – 6:30 pm   McKinley Park Community Center (before the Denali Borough Assembly meeting)
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Denali Trail Plan scoping deadline extended

September 28, 2015

TrailsThe National Park Service is conducting scoping on future trail projects and on visioning for trails in Denali. DCC wanted more time to comment on this complex plan, so we asked for an extension of the deadline, and our request was granted. You now have until October 31st to submit comments.

Read the invitation to provide comment on the park’s planning website at this link.

More information on the history of trails in Denali is at the following link;
http://www.nps.gov/dena/learn/management/trails-management-compilation.htm


Look for alerts including DCC suggestions for comments on trails proposed by this plan and on general visioning for trails in Denali.

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DCC Comments on Proposal to Rehabilitate 7 Mile Pit on the Park Road

September 7, 2015

Our comments asked for clarifications and modifications regarding a plan to expand the existing gravel pit at 5 Mile along the Park Road and eventually close Mile 7 pit.  The presence of wolves in a den near Mile 7 may complicate the rehabilitation project somewhat. In addition, we made suggestions regarding how to ensure that once rehabilitated this pit would be successfully re-designated wilderness.

Read our comments below:

DCC Comments on Mile 7 Pit RehabFINAL – Submitted August 10, 2015

 

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Wolf hunting on state lands next to Denali closed by Emergency Order – what’s next for Denali wolves?

July 11, 2015

NPS photo

NPS photo

After three deaths of Denali’s East Fork Pack wolves this spring, all caused by human activities on state lands next to Denali, DCC members and others called for an Emergency Closure of these lands to wolf hunting for the rest of the season, May 31st in Game Management Unit 20C. On May 14th, the Director of the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation, Bruce Dale, signed an order to establish the closure.

While we are certain that the abundant public request for this closure influenced the decision, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game assured us that our arguments were not convincing and that the decision was made for a very specific and narrow reason – the unforeseen consequence of recently adopted regulations placing more hunters in the field during spring brown bear baiting activities.

At this point, wolf hunting will open on August 10, 2015 on state lands surrounding the national park and will continue until May 30th, 2016, barring any new closures or orders. Meanwhile, advocates for creating a no wolf-take area surrounding the northeast corner of the park are continuing the pressure, including a group that recently met with Governor Bill Walker and Commissioner Sam Cotten in support of a buffer easement, a land management designation that would bypass the Board of Game decision-making process.  The DCC Board has preferred to use the Board of Game process, and we have collaborated with the Alaska Wildlife Alliance to draft a Proposal for the Board of Game’s 2016 meeting. Look for copies of our Proposal in another post. We are acutely aware that the Board of Game has not been receptive to proposals advocating non-consumptive use allocations recently. However, we remain hopeful that with wolf numbers low, and given the importance of the Denali region for wolf viewing and for NPS’s wolf-study program, the evidence for a buffer is mounting.

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NPS releases report on trial Winter Road opening at Denali

May 20, 2015

Winter-plowing-coverIn 2014, after completing an Environmental Assessment in 2013, Denali National Park began plowing the road earlier, starting February 1st and continuing on into the spring season when the road is normally cleared.  The early plowing began at park headquarters and ended at the Mt. Vista Rest Stop, where there is a parking lot.

This activity was considered to be a “trial” for 3 – 5 years, while staff would monitor impact on financial and natural resources and visitor experience.  The report attached to this post describes monitoring done by NPS during the 2014 and 2015 seasons of early opening.

Originally, it appeared that early opening of the park road was done to accommodate commercial tourism, including winter visitors brought on tour buses from Fairbanks. So far, most of the use appears to have been by private vehicles and vans, and commercial use, for whatever reason, has not been dominant.

DCC’s concerns have included impacts on wildlife who inhabit this area of the park (including two known wolf dens), impacts on access by local mushers and skiers, and incremental advance of sophisticated infrastructure into the designated Wilderness core park. In particular, we opposed any noise-making infrastructure, such as generators to support plug-ins, for example, at the Mt. Vista rest stop.

This report is illuminating and we recommend clicking on the link below to read it. The report is large and will take a little time to download.

Monitoring Report on Winter Road Plowing

 

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Environmental Assessment for Gorge Creek Trail Available for Public Comment

February 21, 2015

Eielson Visitor Center- NPS Photo

Eielson Visitor Center- NPS Photo

In September 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) sought input on how to deal with social trails and proposed the idea of establishing new trails around the Eielson Visitor Center area. DCC submitted 5 pages of comments hoping to influence Denali in its planning process (see previous news: “DCC urges NPS to retain ‘no formal trails in wilderness’ policy – Read more in our comments on Eielson-area trails“. It seems that some of our suggestions were taken into consideration.

Until March 1, 2015 the NPS is seeking public comment on an Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating improvements to the Gorge Creek Trail, which is located south of the Eielson Visitor Center (EVC) at Mile 66 on the Denali Park Road. The NPS is considering improving and repairing the Gorge Creek Trail in order to protect Read more

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Transportation Needs in Denali Up For Comment (Again)

October 28, 2014

Transportation in Denali?The National Park Service has recently released scoping questions in order to guide comments on Denali’s proposed Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).  The purpose of the LRTP is to develop a 10-year vision of what transportation should look like in the future of Denali National Park, in order to guide future management decisions. At the meeting, a presentation by NPS on September 24, 2014 explained the reasoning for this plan, and specified comments that would be helpful (click link to see PDF of slide show DENA 148600A Public Scoping 092914 post (2)).  An additional memo (click link to see memo: Foreseeable Future Nearby Projects 09.22.2014) was provided at the meeting for anyone interested. It includes what development is proposed in the park presently (and in the near future). Any additional infrastructure development would require additional public process and regulations.  Comment guidelines are wide open, with opportunities for all individuals to suggest ideas about what transportation to and in Denali National Park and Preserve will be in the future.  The three over-arching questions include:

·      Ten years from now, what would you like transportation within the park and its gateway communities to look like?

·      What would you like to see the park focus on in a long range transportation plan?

·      What about transportation is important to you when entering, using, or leaving the park?
We encourage members to consider several topics in addition to overall management of transportation requested by NPS, including winter and shoulder season access and use, and affordability.  Individuals are encouraged to submit comments to NPS as soon as possible, with comment review by NPS occurring in mid- to late-November.

The specific questions that NPS is hoping for a response on can be seen here. Read more

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DCC urges NPS to retain “no formal trails in wilderness” policy – Read more in our comments on Eielson-area trails

September 20, 2014

Eielson_Trails

Map from NPS Scoping Document

One of the growing pains associated with increased visitation at Denali is the creation of social trails.

As the result of NPS-sanctioned guided hikes, recommendations in various privately-written guides, and information from shuttle bus drivers and park employees at the Wilderness Access Center, Denali’s best hikes are no secret, and social trails have developed, not only near visitor centers and developed areas, but all along the park road.

When ANILCA (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act) declared the core 2 million acre park as Wilderness in 1980, NPS committed to retaining these lands in an untrammeled condition outside development zones.  In the General Management Plan, this commitment was codified as a “no formal trails in wilderness backcountry” policy. Nevertheless, as the pressures of access increased, Read more

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NPS Seeking Input on Denali’s Long Range Transportation Plan

September 19, 2014

Transportation in Denali?What will transportation in and around the park look like in 2025? What do you want it to look like? This is a chance for us to help shape the future planning that happens in Denali.

The public is invited to attend a meeting regarding Denali National Park’s Long Range Transportation Plan on Wednesday, September 24 at 6:00 pm in the McKinley Village Community Center. This plan is being developed as part of a nationwide Park Service initiative to plan for multi-modal transportation on federal lands during the next 10-20 years.

Visitors to Denali National Park often use multiple types of transportation both in getting to the park and as part of their visit. Long Range Transportation Planning seeks to look at transportation challenges and accompanying solutions. Denali’s visitors come on planes, trains and automobiles, as well as on foot, aircraft, off-road vehicle, dogsled, you name it! From the use of the complex shuttle systems, to subsistence access, to travel along Denali’s remote waterways, there is much to consider about transportation in Denali. The input of area residents, commercial operators, and visitors will prove Read more

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DCC Submits Comments For NPS Scoping on Turnout on Government Hill

August 8, 2014

Amidst getting the Wildlife Management Forum together, DCC was able to submit comments to Denali National Park and Preserve regarding their scoping for a future Environmental Assessment to create a scenic turnout at mile 2.5 on the park road located on Government Hill. To see the NPS call for scoping comments, go to: http://www.nps.gov/dena/parknews/government-hill-scenic-pullout-public-input.htm.

We emphasized that although visitor safety is a number one priority, Read more

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