January 19, 2017
Alaska Division of Mining, Land and Water
550 West 7th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501
Dear ML & W: The purpose of this letter is to offer comments by the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) on LAS 27925, the application submitted by Mark Sullivan for Tailgate AK.
AQRC is a statewide, non-profit organization whose mission is to maintain and restore natural sounds and natural quiet on Alaska’s public lands. We believe that these resources, natural quiet and natural sounds, deserve the kind of protection accorded to other important resources like clean air and clean water. In order to enjoy such resources, AQRC advocates for land managers to provide a fair and balanced allocation of our public lands for both non-motorized and motorized recreational uses.
As proposed, the application for a five-year permit asks for exclusive rights to 10 acres of public lands for 90 days (or is it 120 days ?) for an estimated 3,000 users. Thirty employees are indicated. If granted the permit allows the organizer to limit access to the area to anyone who does not buy a ticket/package. In short this will be a major commercial activity and a huge increase over the previous single year permits granted for 500 participants for 31 days. Comments submitted by local quiet recreationists who use this area strongly oppose the permit due to the size of, and length of time, this commercial enterprise could operate.
In view of what is requested in the permit application, we are greatly puzzled by the Tailgate AK website. It indicates the Tailgate festival is only for 10 days, March 17-26, 2017. It lists a number of packages and prices for that period. If it means that 3000 users will all converge on those 10 days, we question how that number can be accommodated and managed. Moreover, the application fails to address what activities are to occur on the other 80 days requested. We are also concerned that the application does not address how and whether its exclusive rights to this public land will impact the public on a daily basis or other planned recreational activities, especially since it includes the airfield.
We strongly recommend that ML & W deny this permit due to the many unanswered questions raised by the application and by the significant discrepancies between the permit application and the Tailgate AK website. We believe these discrepancies make it impossible for DNR, or anyone, to know what would actually occur should the application be approved. If, however, a permit is granted AQRC recommends it be limited to a one year permit and be for the ten days of the festival only. Granting a one year permit would permit DNR to monitor and evaluate whether the commercial enterprise can manage such a huge number of customers for a ten day festival. And, of course, limiting the permit to ten days and for a year would reassure the local users that they could continue to enjoy and have access to the area.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment.
Sincerely yours, Brian Okonek, President