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.
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 trails – Winter 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.