Following our telephone conversation several days ago, the very brief scoping comments below are submitted on behalf of the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC). AQRC is dedicated to the maintenance, and where (too often) necessary, the restoration, of natural quiet and the opportunity to hear and enjoy natural sounds. These critical resources benefit both Alaskans and our visitors–and wildlife–including public land users, home and cabin owners, communities, and future generations. We believe that natural quiet and natural sounds should receive no less consideration than that accorded to other valuable natural resources, such as clean air, clean water, and scenic beauty.
Your scoping letter of December 13, 2010 notes that motorized vehicle use, both ORVs and full-size vehicles, needs to be addressed in the revision EA. We fully agree, and want to emphasize how important that issue is. Much of AQRC’s work involves recreational motorized vehicle use in the backcountry, where the major adverse social impact is to muscle-powered recreationists. But we are probably even more concerned with the impacts of motorized vehicles to home and cabin owners and communities. People in their homes, especially, deserve to be able to enjoy peace and quiet there (often after a busy day). And this quiet should not be restricted to normal sleeping hours; peace and quiet when trying to relax in the morning or evening is just as important to many of us. The revision should seek to insure that the people of Kennecott are not subjected to unnecessary mechanical noise.
Additionally, though, Kennecott is one of the major visitor gateways in the entire Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and the great majority of visitors to Kennecott are almost certain to consider ORV traffic, or unexpectedly heavy full-size vehicle traffic, a serious
intrusion. ORV and traffic noise is not what visitors to an Alaskan unit of the National Park System come to experience. Only necessary traffic should be permitted at Kennecott.; there is no good justification for inessential recreational use–or even unnecessary non-recreational use by what is likely to be a small minority of residents.
Thank you for the chance to offer these comments. We look forward to continuing to participate in this important planning process.
Cliff Eames Board Member Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition