September 27, 2011
Daniel S. Sullivan
Commissioner, Department of Natural Resources
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1400
Anchorage, AK 99501
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
Re: Appeal of Sept. 7, 2011 Decision by the Director, Div. of Parks and Outdoor Recreation to Petition by the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition
Pursuant to 11 AAC 02.030, the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) appeals one aspect of the decision made by Director Ellis in his Sept. 7, 2011 letter to Vice President Brian Okonek denying AQRC’s petition, submitted pursuant to 11 AAC 12.336, to close areas of Denali State Park to winter snowmachine use.
We take exception to the letter citing AS 41.21.020(a)(14) as limiting the department’s authority to make closures in Denali State Park. (We suggest that a more appropriate citation should be to AS 41.21.020(e) since AS 41.21.020(a) just refers to the requirement to file an annual report to the legislature should there be closures in certain management areas.) Regardless, this appeal is based on our interpretation that neither AS 41.21.020(a)(14) or AS 41.21.020(e) are applicable to legislatively-designated parks such as Denali State Park.
A review of the legislative history clearly shows that the sponsors intended that SB 35 apply only to administratively-designed parks and did not apply to state parks like Denali or Chugach which were established by the legislature. As shown in the history, it was the position of the sponsors that through the language creating the parks and DNR’s responsibilities, such as determining incompatible uses, the legislature had given the authority to manage, including closures where necessary, to the administration for those parks. We draw your attention to wording in the opening phrase of AS 41.21.020(e) (E)xcept… as otherwise provided in AS 41.21.110-41.21.630… to support this position. See April 15, 1997 testimony by Senator Lyda Green, sponsor, (Numbers 1180, 1448) and Tuckerman Babcock, Legislative Assistant to Senator Green, (Numbers 1488 and 1880). See also Governor Knowles letter to Dear Alaskan dated June 9, 1997, stating that SB 35 requires the state Division of Parks to seek legislative approval for any access restrictions to administratively created state parks.
We request that DPOR acknowledge that SB 35 is not applicable to closures in state parks established by the legislature pursuant to AS 41.21.110-41.21.630. On the assumption that after review, you do agree with our position, we then request that you close the area referenced in our petition to snowmachines now, until an approved trails plan determines the winter use of the area in question.
Susan Olsen, President
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition
PO Box 202592
Anchorage, AK 99520