20 Mile River Letter

Attention: Alison Rein

Following are comments from the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition regarding the awarding of commercial outfitter/guide permits for the Twenty Mile River.

As you may know, the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) participated extensively in the planning sessions leading to the revision of the management plan for the Chugach National Forest. Then, as now, AQRC is concerned with the decreasing opportunities in the Forest for experiencing natural quiet and natural sounds while recreating due to the increase in motorized uses. We are concerned about the increasing commercial recreational permitting allowed which in most cases increase motorized recreation in the Forest.

Your analysis of the Twenty Mile indicates that the Recreational Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) assigned to the Twenty Mile River is Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized because the valley itself is designated as nonmotorized. The characteristics of this ROS designation include “solitude,isolation and quiet while traveling on the river”. The river is described as a “road”through the valley. Your analysis indicates however that you manage the river as Semi-Primitive Motorized. This is an exact parallel to designating a snowmachine corridor through an area designated as nonmotorized and expecting the skier to enjoy the experience.

AQRC would urge the Forest Service, at a minimum, to limit the client days to the 600 authorized last year until you have conducted the type of monitoring necessary to ascertain the experiences enjoyed, or suffered, by both the motorized as well as the nonmotorized user. We think the safety issues alone require you to limit the number of client days. It well may be that monitoring will result in limits on non-guided motorized uses as well as commercial uses in order to preserve the wilderness experience of the Twenty Mile River.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Susan Olsen on behalf of AQRC
Box 202592
Anchorage, AK 99520