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DCC Opposes Suction Dredge mining in Kantishna

June 8, 2016

MapA request to do in-stream suction dredge mining on a small fresh water stream with important grayling habitat has been submitted to the National Park Service, and DCC commented on the Environmental Assessment the service developed.

We opposed this project unequivocally, as a threat to streambed habitat and nearby resources, and because it reverses settled policy supporting willing seller buyout of mining claims in Kantishna.  NPS has had more than 26 years to make the buyout, and because of a failure of vision, has neglected to do so.

Read our comments at the link below.

DCC Comments on Eldorado Mining Plan of Operations FINAL

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Support Proposal 141 to Protect Denali Wolves – Comments due Friday March 4, 2016

March 2, 2016

Proposal 141 (by the National Park Service) was just recently approved for hearing at the Board’s statewide regulations meeting in Fairbanks from March 18-28th. Proposal 141 asks the Board to shorten the wolf hunting season on lands north of Denali National Park. Currently, the wolf hunting season runs from August 10-May 31st. Proposal 141 shortens it to run from Aug 10 – April 15th.

This Proposal is intended to protect Denali wolves when more hunters are on state lands north of the park for bear baiting (season starts April 15th). It also seeks to protect wolves during a time when more pregnant females are afield. The risk to the wolves is not theoretical. Two wolves from the East Fork Pack were killed near a bait station last spring, one of them a pregnant female. These deaths resulted in an emergency hunting closure by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

We at DCC tried twice over the past year to get a more comprehensive solution before the Board of Game, in the form of a buffer, but our efforts were rebuffed. Somehow, Proposal 141 got through the restrictive process. Adding to its momentum, the Middle Nenana River Advisory Committee has voted to support it.

Read Proposal 141 here.
WE URGE YOU TO SUPPORT PROPOSAL 141 Time is short, but a few simple sentences identifying your interest, emphasizing your familiarity with the Denali area, and supporting protection of the wolves, are appreciated and valued.
Talking points include:
  • The international importance of these wolves for tourism and scientific study.
  • The specific risk these wolves experience in spring, when more hunters are on state lands nearby.
  • The heightened risk for disruption of packs if pregnant females are killed.
  •  Any personal interest or expertise you have.
  • The advisability of adopting the regulation for the 2016 hunting season.
Ask the Board of Game to amend the proposal to even better protect the wolves by:
  • Ending hunting season earlier – April 1, or March 15th, to better protect pregnant females.
  • Enlarging the area where the regulation would be enforced.
  • Ending trapping season on the same date as hunting season. Currently trapping season ends April 30.
Click below to read
DCC Comments to Board of Game – March 2016
 

HOW TO SEND A COMMENT

Online: Click on the link below to visit the Board of Game Comment Page, where you can submit a short or long comment for the statewide meeting by 3/4/15. Click on the tab, “Alternative Submissions” for email, snail mail and fax addresses and numbers.

http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=process.comments
 
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Middle Nenana AC looks at NPS proposal to shorten wolf season – Tuesday Feb 16

February 15, 2016

wolfWhat: Middle Nenana River Fish and Game Advisory Committee
Where: Anderson Lion’s club
Time: Tuesday, February 16th, 6 PM
Agenda: Middle Nenana River AC Agenda 2016 Feb 16

Recently, DCC filed an agenda change request for the Board of Game to consider a wolf buffer at its March 2016 meeting in Fairbanks, in order to protect Denali Park wolves when they venture onto state lands northeast of the park. The National Park Service, unbeknownst to us, had also filed an ACR, using similar arguments but asking for a different solution. NPS asked that the Board shorten wolf hunting season from the current season, Aug 10 – May 31, to Aug 10 – April 15th, to help spare wolves that venture from the park during reproductive season and when more hunters are in the field at bear baiting stations (season starts April 30th).

The NPS ACR, ACR #20 (click to read), was accepted, and will considered as a proposal at the Board of Game meeting March 18-27 in Fairbanks.  On Tuesday February 16th, the Middle Nenana Fish and Game AC, our local advisory group, will meet in Anderson to discuss this and other proposals, and vote on its recommendations to the Board of Game.

Although a long drive, this meeting should prove to be interesting, as the Committee considers a variety of proposals destined to be heard by the Board of Game at its upcoming meeting.

 

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DCC submits scoping comments to FERC opposing Parks Highway gasline route

December 5, 2015

Read our comments below.

DCC comments – Alaska LNG Project scoping

 

Background
Since 2008, Denali Borough residents have heard various proposals for a pipeline that would transport North Slope gas to the Anchorage area using a Parks Highway route.  Now, in 2015, the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Project, or Alaska LNG, has emerged as the dominant gas pipeline project for Alaska.  Overshadowing its most recent competitor, the Alaska Standalone Pipeline Project (ASAP), Alaska LNG is expected to cost between $45 and $65 billion dollars, the single largest investment in Alaska history.  The project, unlike ASAP, would employ up to a 48 inch diameter pipe, would transport pure methane, and would involve liquefaction of the gas and export to Asian markets from a marine terminal, currently identified as Nikiski, Alaska.

FERC conducts scoping across the state: Docket No. PF14-21-000
In early November 2015 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conducted scoping sessions in affected communities along the proposed pipeline route. FERC is the federal agency responsible for conducting environmental review of energy projects, and has already been in the borough scoping on proposed small hydro projects.  The deadline for scoping comments was December 4, 2015, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is scheduled to appear in 2017, and a Final EIS is scheduled for 2018, followed by a determination of whether the project should proceed. FERC will not be in the community again for public comment until the Draft EIS is out in 2017. DCC intends to submit comments.  We encourage others to submit, even if past the deadline.       The FERC scoping meeting in the Denali Borough attracted 25+ citizens. Brian Napier represented DCC and spoke to the effects of this project on scenic qualities, wildlife and the overall tourism economy. Others raised issues of impacts upon high-value land parcels in the Panguingue, Yanert, Montana Creek, Otto Lake and north Nenana Canyon areas, including acreage owned by the Denali Borough and still awaiting classification and land use plans.  The issue of access roads and their disruption of the community came up. And, although bringing gas to tidewater for export is in Alaska’s interest, the disruption of Denali lands and communities carries with it no opportunity for access to gas or other clear benefits.       The FERC scoping meeting in Anchorage attracted 40+ individuals and fourteen gave testimony.  I spoke for DCC, and questioned the Parks Highway route, citing its heavy impacts on lands in the Denali Borough designated for wildlife habitat and public recreationI urged FERC to consider other viable alternatives to the Parks Highway route, including the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) to Valdez. As it happened, at least three other speakers favored this alternative route, with reasons focused on impacts to whales and problems with ice movement in cook Inlet.  Although, a lot of momentum exists behind the Alaska LNG project as currently configured, FERC representatives present at the meeting indicated that all viable alternatives would be considered, based on public input. It is time for folks to raise their voices suggesting an alternative routing of this pipeline.

Unknowns make public comment difficult
One of the reasons I gave to FERC for opposing the Parks Highway route was the absence of useful detail on how project infrastructure will affect the lands and communities it crosses. Recent maps that showed possible access routes in the Denali Borough are no longer posted on the LNG website, and it is still unclear where gravel will be obtained and where the pipeline will be above vs. below ground.  The overall visual impacts of laying pipe close to the Parks Highway in the Nenana Canyon have not been pictured. On one of the maps I reviewed, it looked as if an access road to the Yanert Valley portion of the line would be located on the BLM 17(b) easement that starts at a newly renovated pullout along the Parks Highway. I made it clear to LNG representatives that the conversion of this trail into a road for purposes of access to the pipeline would likely be opposed by the community.

Other project unknowns include whether the pipe will be 42” or 48” in diameter (not to be decided until May 2016), how large the footprint of a compressor station will be (two are envisioned, one north of Healy, the other north of Cantwell), whether the pipeline will be buried under or bridged over the Nenana River at Moody Bridge, what if any access roads are planned to that portion of the pipeline above the Nenana Canyon hotels, and how permanent any access roads would be in Yanert and Montana Creek areas. Also unknown at this time is how the pipeline senses a breach and provides notification of it, and what impacts from maintenance and general operations there would be.

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DCC News – Fall 2015

December 1, 2015

Our fall 2015 edition thanks members who have donated in the fall drive, our strong opposition to routing a gas line through the Denali Borough down the Parks Highway, and many other topics.

Read it at the link below.

DCC News – Fall 2015

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DCC Submits Comments on Agnew::Beck recommendations

November 1, 2015

boroughcolorThis past weekend, DCC submitted comments on the Draft recommendations of the consulting firm Agnew::Beck to the Denali Borough on land classification and management.  The comments addressed issues brought up by the consulting firm around land management processes, conflicts and next steps in this young borough.  Please read our comments below.

DCC Comments Agnew::Beck recommendations to Denali Borough

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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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COMMENT DEADLINE OCTOBER 31: Denali Borough planning recommendations

October 30, 2015

Color_Borough_Logo_WebThe consulting firm of Agnew::Beck was recently hired by the Denali Borough to assist with creating a management system for Borough-owned lands. Agnew::Beck has produced a draft set of recommendations and is looking for public comment on it. Download 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

If you live, part or full-time, in the Denali Borough, or own lands in the borough, you have an interest in this process!  Review the recommended classifications for areas near your home and decide if this is what you want.


Your comments are important!
You may email comments to Agnew::Beck at the addresses below:
Adam Smith at adam@agnewbeck.com or Chris Beck at chris@agnewbeck.com
Phone: (907) 222-5424


DCC’s comments will express the following:

  • The Agnew::Beck process must result in action by the Denali Borough, to establish a vision for its lands using the classification process.
  • The vision is important, and includes identifying lands that are strategically located for economic development and lands that are better left to provide opportunities for dispersed recreation and wildlife habitat. Planners must think carefully about both the benefit and the cost to the borough of classification for development.
  • We urge the Denali Borough to move forward from classifying its own lands to establishing a coherent land classification and management system for the entire borough. The borough must develop its capacity to manage, especially as corporate interests eye lands within the borough for their pet projects.
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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 News – Late Summer 2015

September 15, 2015

In this issue, we discuss the role that Agnew::Beck consulting has agreed to play in planning for management of borough-owned lands, DCC’s forum on proposed local hydro projects, the ongoing risk status of Denali wolves, and many other topics.

View the newsletter here:  DCC News – Late summer 2015

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