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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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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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Open Letter to Alaska Director of Wildlife Conservation supports closure

May 9, 2015

From: nancy@denalicitizens.org
Sent: Saturday, May 09, 2015 12:55 PM
To: bruce.dale@alaska.gov
Subject: Denali wolves emergency closure

Dear Mr. Dale,

I spoke with you briefly at the recent Board of Game meeting regarding wolf numbers in Unit 20C overall and adjacent to Denali Park. At that time I mentioned that ADF&G had, in its most recent management report, established a density goal for wolves, and that numbers both inside the park portion of 20C and in the GMU as a whole are well below that density number.

Although it is unclear if the Department intends to adopt management practices to support that density goal, it is nevertheless in print as a goal. Despite this goal, the Board of Game recently increased the hunting bag limit from 5 to 10 wolves in 20C, next to the park, and continues to maintain a late hunting season, until May 31st.  Now, with wolf numbers lower inside Denali and packs vulnerable to hunting in the townships north of the park, the density numbers will fall again.

I, and my organization, the Denali Citizens Council, support an emergency closure of the remaining wolf hunting season on state lands northeast of Denali National Park, as a way to support wolves who den in the park and predictably venture into the Wolf Townships, and as a way for the department to manage for its stated density goals.  This pattern of wolf out-migration from Denali has been in place since the 1980s and happens whether or not the park has a “prey problem,” following late winter cyclic-migration of caribou. It is well known that the East Fork wolves denned close to the northern boundary this year, and the pack has already suffered three trapping/hunting losses, one a pregnant female. There are 22 days left in the season and no guarantee that the alpha female of the East Fork pack will not be shot.

It is well within your purview and authority to do an emergency closure now, based on Fish and Game-stated density goals and management vision for wolves. The fact that the statewide population of wolves is not threatened should not be an impediment to making this closure, as the Department often manages at the subunit level when the situation demands. Many folks have stressed to you the importance of these wolves to those who visit the Denali region. Their importance for the viewing public is not simply a National Park goal, it is a stated goal in published ADF&G documents.

In the history of this issue, there has been a tendency for the biologists to tell us that we must go the board of game and then for the board of game to send us back to the biologists. This reluctance to address the issue of Denali wolves from either side of your department has placed it in a sort of regulatory limbo for almost six years now.  Meanwhile the wolf numbers have declined inside Denali to numbers so low that every single death gains significance, especially if the wolf is pregnant.  Controlling human take at such times can be an effective tool for supporting Department goals.

The Denali Citizens Council is composed of close to 300 members, most of whom have lived or now live in communities around the park. Many of our members recently wrote to the Commissioner asking for this closure.  Please don’t hand this closure off to the Board of Game.  They will not be able to handle it before the end of the season. If you or the Commissioner do not perform this closure, it will not happen.

 

Respectfully,

Nancy Bale
Denali Citizens Council

 

 

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DCC joins others in asking for Emergency Wolf Hunting Closure

May 9, 2015

wolfAfter the loss of three individuals, one a pregnant female, to the East Fork pack, which last year denned very close to the northern boundary of the park, DCC joined a number of local and regional voices in requesting an Emergency Closure to wolf hunting of state lands adjacent to the northeast corner of Denali National Park, for the rest of the season, which ends May 31st.  Although time is ticking along and we’ve heard nothing yet from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, we are watching carefully for word.

 

Dan Bross of KUAC radio has done an excellent series of broadcasts on this topic. See his latest one at http://fm.kuac.org/post/denali-wolf-shootings-add-population-decline

 

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Wolf Monitoring report details three human-caused deaths this spring

May 6, 2015

Denali wolves remained highly vulnerable this spring, with two dens east of the Savage River and one pack, East Fork,  subject to attrition through both hunting and trapping. A report detailing the situation of Denali wolves was made available this week. Read it below.

Denali Wolf Monitoring 2015 – 5-5-2015 Update

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DCC signs Emergency Petition to Protect Denali Wolves

March 4, 2015

2012-Emergency-Wolf-Buffer-The eight-member DCC Board voted unanimously at its February 2nd teleconference to support an Emergency Petition to establish a “no wolf take” area on state lands adjacent to Denali National Park, similar to one brought to the Alaska Board of Game in 2010 and in petitions filed over the past few years by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, NPCA, and several individuals.   NPS fall 2014 wolf counts show no rebound from low numbers (approximately 50 wolves) in the spring, a serious finding.  Low numbers of wolves throughout the state Game Management Unit 20C, which includes most of Denali wolf habitat and state lands stretching north, are a recognized situation. No doubt there are a number of influences upon low numbers, among them weather and prey availability.  However, the situation is now severe enough for the Board of Game to consider hunting and trapping closures, allowing time for the wolf population to recover to sustainable numbers in this area.

The petition urges the Board of Game to look beyond overall, GMU-wide wolf population health and focus in on this specific area. Wolves tend to use the eastern Stampede lands preferentially in winter because of prey and habitat characteristics. Two active dens in the eastern areas of the national park are within a day’s walk of state lands where predator hunting and trapping are legal. The unlimited trapping and the 10 wolf hunting bag limit on these state lands make it possible for an entire pack to be taken. Even the loss of one breeder can be quite damaging to pack integrity, according to a recent analysis by NPS.

Read a copy of the Emergency Petition sent to the Board of Game at the following link;
2015 Emergency PetitionFINAL.

Although the Board of Game has been historically unresponsive to calls for closures, we are hoping for a new spirit of compromise as we support this Emergency Petition at the BoG March 2015 meeting in Anchorage. We invite you to sign DCC’s informal petition, in which we hope to gather the names of Alaskans who support this closure. Visit the link below or on the front page of our website.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/restore-protections-for-denali-wolves-on-state?

 

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Make your voice heard – ASAP Gas pipeline comments due October 14, 2014

October 11, 2014

ASAP_Healy_Community_WallMap_4of4_140806

Map from ASAP EIS shows route of ASAP pipeline between Healy and Carlo Creek. Click on map for larger version.

On August 1, 2014 the US Army Corps of Engineers announced a public comment period for the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Project (ASAP). Comments are due by October 14, 2014.  Although an initial Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved in October of 2012, this scoping period will help to develop a Supplemental EIS to address changes in the pipeline right-of-way, and facilities on the North Slope to prepare gas for transport in the pipeline.  Click here for more information on the Supplemental EIS.

DCC submitted extensive comments on the initial EIS, and will be submitting detailed comments during this scoping period as well.  Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments ensure that the concerns of local residents are addressed.

The route of this line has changed several times, and is proposed to travel through residential areas, and valued natural areas.  Check the maps available online for current projected locations of the line in relation to your property and places where you work and recreate.  Detailed maps can be viewed under the headings of Healy and Cantwell.

Read more

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NPS releases Regulation and EA to amend Wildlife Harvest regulations in the Preserves

September 7, 2014

On September 4, 2014, the National Park Service released a long-awaited regulation prohibiting certain methods of hunting on National Park Preserve Lands.  This regulation is a response to recent changes in Alaska Department of Fish and Game Regulations that would allow certain hunting practices such as flashlighting black bear sows and cubs in their dens, shooting grizzly bears over bait, and extending the season for hunting wolves and coyotes.  Read the regulation at this link:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NPS-2014-0004-0001

At the same time, NPS released an Environmental Assessment (EA) of this decision.  The EA describes the circumstances under which this regulation was developed and gives further information on the affected parks. View the EA at this link:
https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=49062

DCC supports this effort to manage wildlife consistent with legislative direction and wound wildlife management policies. We’ll have more information on any hearings scheduled or other talking points throughout the comment period.

COMMENT DEADLINE FOR REGULATION AND EA – December 3, 2014

Regulation information  and comments

Information: contact Andee Sears at the NPS Regional Office,  644-3417
or email AKR_Regulations@nps.gov

Regulation comments:  submit online at the government website http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NPS-2014-0004-0001


EA information and comments

EA information: Write or call EA authors
Brooke Merrell  brooke_merrell@nps.gov,  907-644-3397
Bud Rice  bud_rice@nps.gov, 907-644-3530

EA comments: Comments can be made through the National Park Planning website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=49062.

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