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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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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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DCC comments on NPS Wildlife Regulations express support

December 14, 2014

A federal regulation that would ban certain predator-hunting practices in the National Preserves just completed a 90 day comment period. We recently heard that more than 45,000 comments and 28,000 petition signatures were submitted, largely in support. Although there may be some minor changes, the regulation is expected to be finalized early in 2015. DCC signed on with several conservation organizations to a letter from Trustees for Alaska, an environmental law firm located in Anchorage, Alaska. We submitted a separate letter endorsing the comments and expressing our hope for an improved climate betwee NPS and the State of Alaska, moving forward. Read the detailed and interesting Trustees letter at the link below, followed by our submission.
NPS Draft Wildlife REgulation-Trustees for Alaska comments-Dec 3,2014
Denali Citizens Council comments on RIN 1024 AE21-Dec 3, 2014

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Sept-Oct DCC News now Online

November 8, 2014

DCC NL Sept-Oct 2014-web

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DCC submits comments on ASAP pipeline Supplemental EIS

October 14, 2014

at-the-meeting2During a recent scoping period for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP), we submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency developing the SEIS.  The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement marks another step in a long and frustratingly complex process to permit a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, past Fairbanks, and down the Parks Highway east of Denali National Park to Southcentral Alaska.  The Supplemental EIS discusses some changes in ASAP infrastructure and route, but persists with a bypass route east of the national park, something quite unpopular with local residents.

Touted as a way to bring the benefits of Alaska natural gas to hungry Anchorage markets, the ASAP line is likely to be eclipsed by a much larger project, the Alaska LNG Project, in a few years.  The LNG promoters, including three oil companies and the State of Alaska, have brought their project plans to local residents through a series of meetings, but at this point ASAP appears to be taking the lead in permitting and shovel work.

Our comments were detailed, and stressed the lack of clarity in the project and its failure to consider a full range of alternatives.  Read our comments by clicking the link below.

DCC ASAP SEIS Comments 10.14.14

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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 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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Come attend Wilderness50th events in Denali as Autumn Begins

August 25, 2014

from-primrose

Fall view from Primrose

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the communities around Denali are celebrating this landmark legislation. The Wilderness Act protects the 2 million acre Denali Wilderness that many of us think of as our backyard. We think this is worth celebrating because this law protects this special wild place into perpetuity.

Just in time to celebrate the wonderful fall colors, come out and join community members, DCC members, Alaska Geographic, Aramark, Denali Education Center, and the National Park Service in one or more of the culminating events for the Wilderness50 celebration.

Wilderness50th events at Denali – August and September

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DCC opposes borehole drilling in Yanert Valley

August 14, 2014

at-the-meeting2As our readers know, DCC has been actively concerned about proposals for gas line development in the
Denali Borough from two different projects, the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Project and the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas Project.  Recently the ASAP project, sponsored by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, proposed to drill bore holes in the Yanert Valley, to test the soil substrate for load bearing and gravel acquisition properties. The area to be tested would be on the route of the pipeline, along the Alaska Intertie. You may read our comments below.

AGDC Permit Comments

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DCC News – Summer 2014 issue is now on line

August 7, 2014

 

Our summer newsletter welcomes new DCC officers and issues.  Read it at the link below.

DCC Summer 2014 NL

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NPS Backcountry & Road Studies

May 19, 2014

These reports were discussed at last night’s annual membership meeting. Check out the link below to the 2012 State of the Backcountry report, as well as the Road Study report as a downloadable PDF.

2012 State of the Backcountry Report

2011 – 2012 Road Study Summary Report

IMG_7245 copy

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DCC Comments on the NPS Wonder Lake Weather Station EA

May 8, 2014

Wonder Lake Lenticular Photo by Jennifer Raffaeli

Wonder Lake Lenticular
Photo by Jennifer Raffaeli

On May 5, DCC submitted comments regarding the EA for a Climate Station west of the Wonder Lake Campground in Denali National Park and Preserve.

DCC generally supported the preferred alternative of siting a USCRN climate station in a location close to an existing road near Wonder Lake campground, noting the long-term benefit to science. However, we raised a few concerns as the station will lie close to the Wilderness boundary and within a development zone in the Wilderness exclusion intended for campgrounds, rest areas, trailheads, utility corridors, gravel acquisition, and parking.

To view our complete comments, click on the link:DCC Comments-Wonder Lake Weather Station-5-5-14 and to see the EA go to: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=9&projectID=11880&documentID=58484.

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