April 4, 2016
Dear Brandon McCutcheon,
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area plan revision. As you are aware from Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition’s previous comments on this planning process, our concerns center around protecting the quiet natural setting of the Lakes Unit and its values as a Natural Land Use Zone. We appreciate the fact that DPOR will continue to manage highway vehicle, ORV and snowmachine use in this unit primarily through authorization via permit. Further, that continued motorized use will be monitored closely for resource damage and that DPOR will shut down such motorized use should damage occur. However, if we have read the plan correctly, permits will be made available to anyone who requests one regardless of land or home ownership and whether within or outside of the NLSRA boundaries. This cannot but substantially increase motorized traffic in the very area and on the very trails which were previously damaged and which led to the recent litigation. We are simply skeptical that DPOR has the capacity to perform the amount and type of monitoring required to protect the quiet natural setting of this unit. In fact, we do not believe that adding one field Ranger whose primary role appears to be enforcement and/or upgrading a part-time park specialist to full-time will provide you with the staffing necessary to protect and preserve this area for the quiet recreational opportunities users want. We also note that no timetable is presented for revisions to the regulations.
While we do find the proposed plan to be very detailed and comprehensive with good information about the planning process and its stages, we find that the plan does not present a permanent solution to one of its chief issues: how to preserve a natural setting for quiet recreation when motorized access is allowed. The plan’s success is dependent on comprehensive monitoring which we simply do not believe will, or can, occur. It is important that there is no further resource damage of public lands and wildlife habitat. The natural soundscape of the forest and lakes needs to be protected for the wildlife that lives there and the public, including those that own property and cabins in the area, seeking a quiet place to recreate and relax.
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition, President