To whom it may concern:
The purpose of this email is to submit the comments of the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC), a state-wide non-profit organization, on the preliminary alternative concepts for amending the 1984 GMP. The mission of AQRC is to maintain and restore natural sounds and natural quiet in Alaska through advocacy and education for the benefit of people and wildlife.
We support Alternative D as being most in keeping with the Park’s legislative history and purpose. It is primarily a wilderness park and we feel strongly that it must be managed to fulfill Â that purpose and therefore do not support facility development. We do understand, however, that visitation in and adjacent to Port Alsworth is adversely impacting the Park. For that reason we suggest limited modifications to Alternative D by incorporating a few Alternative C Visitor Facilities provisions such as a bigger outhouse at Port Alsworth, an accessible trail to the Wounded Warriors Camp and appropriate campsites at the children’s camp. Â In regard to the Proenneke cabin, we support Alternative D in part, Â but would suggest that no facilities be provided. Folks could visit to see how he lived but not be encouraged to camp there to avoid it becoming a “destination” campsite with accompanying resource damage.
We also understand that the coastal regions of the Park are experiencing increased visitation by boat and plane, which also includes ATV and truck access, particularly for bear viewing. This activity is not managed or monitored by the Park and apparently bear behavior has been adversely affected. We know from the McNeil River experience that it is possible to have bear viewing opportunities without adversely affecting bear behavior through managing people’s actions, Â conduct and non-motorized access. However, that requires, at the least, the presence of park rangers which you do not have available. We strongly urge that this revision to the GMP include both a plan and adequate staffing that allows you to either manage bear viewing or take steps to limit access by ATVBs or trucks, at the very least. Â Again, to that end, we would modify Alternative D by including alternative C provisions for additional staff.
We further recommend that you monitor the soundscape, particularly in regard to the noise created by small plane activity, so that the Park is in a position to protect the opportunities for visitors to experience the natural quiet and hear the natural sounds they expect to be present in a wilderness park.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment.
Susan Olsen, President
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition