The Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA) (HB 307)
Current Status (August, 2009): The Knik River Public Use Area is currently being managed under the Final Management Plan of September 25, 2008 and newly adopted regulations effective Nov 9, 2008.
A fine schedule has been established to discourage offenders.
This schedule does not show those offenses offenses that are punishable statewide, such as burning cars on public lands (Arson Felony C) and riding motorized vehicles in salmon streams except at designated crossings - up to $10,000 and jail time.
No signs are posted at Bodenburg Creek that this is a salmon stream. No enforcement has been observed where operators of ATVs, trucks and dirt bikes were punished for violating one of these most basic wildlife laws in Alaska, allowing large numbers of recreationists to play in Bodenburg Creek, even during active spawning season. Agency directors, managers and enforcement authorities have clearly allowed the violation of state and federal laws for a long time despite pleas by many members of the public.
The 18-month State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources planning process brought forth the Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan.
The original draft plan plus a number of additional documents that comprise the adopted plan are available here: www.knikriver.alaska.gov
BARCO and more than 50 persons or organizations asked the Commissioner of Department of Natural Resources to reconsider the Final Management Plan (BARCO Reconsideration Request) to no avail.
For that reason, BARCO appealed the Plan to Superior Court, State of Alaska, November, 2008. Because DNR failed to submit “the record” in a timely fashion, and failed to include the entire record in their submittal, two extensions were granted by the Court to date. ________________________________________________________________________________
Management Plan Development by Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The Scoping Period ended February 8, 2007. Comment periods on the Management Plan and the proposed rules ended May 2, 2008 and November 23, 2007 respectively.
As Department of Natural Resources is developed a management plan for this area, ARCO encouraged residents and visitors to remind DNR that the time has come for the State of Alaska to start enforcing the laws in Knik River Valley as they do in other areas of this beautiful state - from the Kenai Peninsula and the Little Su to the North Slope - and to give our damaged environment the opportunity to recover. We had expected that the State of Alaska would hold irresponsible users to the same standards when it comes to protecting streams, waterfowl, and fish & wildlife habitat as they do the construction and oil field industries.
Butte Area Residents Civic Organization (BARCO) had reason to be concerned about the continuing negative impacts on their community after the State of Alaska went forward with the DNR Proposed Alternatives for managing the Knik River Public Use Area. These alternatives demonstrate little respect to this community and the beautiful Knik River Valley.
BARCO had developed Alternatives for reasonable and sound management of multi-use recreation on the public lands adjacent to their neighborhood consistent with HB 307 including the protection of fish and wildlife resources.
The Priorities and Comments (BARCO COMPREHENSIVE ALTERNATIVES ) submitted to DNR during the planning process represented Butte Area Residents Civic Organization’s solutions to combat and mitigate the loss of our quality of life and that of wildlife and it’s habitat. They would have allowed multi-use recreation without conflict and would have opened the door to new economic opportunities based on our world-class scenery and Butte’s proximity to Alaska’s population center and its visitors.
The State of Alaska neglected to incorporate these priorities in their proposed Management Plan Alternatives. The State of Alaska showed little regard for those who expressed concern about habitat and recreational destruction during the Scoping Period, even though 20% of all scoping comments showed concern about habitat and environment; and 25% of all scoping comments expressed concern about the destructive effects of ORV and trucks. Numerous studies acknowledge the importance of Knik River Valley ecosystem.While responsible motorized users are our friends and neighbors who treat the beautiful Knik River Valley with respect, this small community and the valuable resources of our surroundings are under siege by an overwhelming majority of users who feel entitled to exercise their freedoms without restraint.
Butte is at the mercy of those who come out here to “play”. DNR is managing the public lands for “high use,” meaning they suspended the rules and allow unlimited destruction on all but the wetlands in the Knik River/Jim Creek area. Even the wetlands have to take abuse of 6” rutting by motor vehicle before the ATV riders are (maybe) taken to task. Residents and the media have been reporting recent increased criminal activities and reckless behavior in the Knik River/Jim Creek area. These activities include gang training, drug activity with fatal consequences, car burnings, reckless shooting and issues of interest to Homeland Security. They demonstrate a lack of respect for the community of Butte and prevent legitimate recreational use of the area.
Irresponsible motorized users, who come here to challenge their machines and their skills in mud, dirt and water, may not realize that all of our waters are salmon bearing, that the wetlands are migratory waterfowl and moose calf rearing habitat, that it will take years to revegetate the dunes which are keeping the Knik River in its channel and the dust out of the Valley, and that residents and wildlife are at risk because of the relentless assault of motorized acitivity on land and water by a conglomerate of several motor sports organizations. They continue to advocate toward recreational motorized access to all trails in the Knik River Valley, including valuable habitat, lakes and wetlands. AOAA and AOC position statement and editorial.
Butte Area Residents Civic Organization encourages residents, responsible motorized and quiet users, as well as those users who have been disenfranchised from recreating in this beautiful area, to remain vigilant and keep their representatives informed of the issues. Residents look forward to normal lives, and protection from the current chaos so that our community and the wildlife can grow and prosper and live in peace.
State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, Knik River Planning Team website:
DNR PLANNING TEAM MEMBERS:
David Griffin, Area Manager: 907-269-8546 David_Griffin@alaska.gov
Ms. Ellen Simpson, Dept of Fish and Game Representative. (907)267-2463 Ellen_Simpson@alaska.gov
Ms. Simpson is charged by HB 307 to, “protect and maintain migratory waterfowl nesting areas; habitats for moose, Dall sheep, and brown bear; and other fish and wildlife habitat so that traditional public use of fish and wildlife populations may continue;
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Representatives on the Planning Team:
Ms. Frankie Barker, 746-7439, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Paulsen, 745-4801, email@example.com
View the 250-some public scoping comments at DNR Knik River web site.
View the 233 comments to proposed DNR Alternatives.
Note: “Recognizing” existing trails as described in the language of Knik River Public Use Area Legislation HB 307 does not refer to “grandfathering” trails. See the Definition of “recognizing existing trails.” explained during the legislative hearing. Read fiscal notes 1 and 2, where Senate Finance expanded the original amount of $176,800 for planning and management by $180,000 for a total of $356,800 “to include $180,000 contractual funds to allow for additional enforcement.” Also note Letter of Intent accompanying legislation which would give DNR the tool to charge user fees for managing and maintaining the area:
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The Susitna Area Plan recommended the creation of a KNIK RIVER VALLEY STATE RECREATION AREA . Such legislation is still an option for future lawmakers, or for our governor to establish by Executive Order.
Legislators’ addresses: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/infodocs/leglist.pdf
List of Alaska legislators’ email addresses