Dear Ms. Paquet;
This email is submitted by the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) Board as comment on the two proposals from the Chugach Powder Guides, Inc.
AQRC is a statewide organization dedicated to the maintenance of natural quiet for the benefit of quiet recreation, quiet living, and the Â protection of wildlife. AQRC advocates for natural quiet on a fair share of our public lands.
Both the one year and the five year proposal of the CPG Â would destroy the possibility of quiet for non-motorized recreation over an enormous area, would ruin the peace and quiet of home and cabin owners from Girdwood to Moose Pass, and would potentially disturb a great variety of wildlife.
Several surveys, both state and national, have shown that more than 70% of Alaskans want more non-motorized recreational opportunities (SCORP survey) and 90% of visitors value the peace and quiet of public lands (NPS survey). In addition, the Chugach National Forest’s own community survey indicated that local townspeople place great value on peace and quiet . Studies done by the military on the effects of air noise on Â wildlife show that raptors are affected. Other studies have linked helicopter noise to the disturbance of mountain goats. Granting these permits would go against the wishes of residents, recreationists, and visitors and the needs of wildlife, just to satisfy the wants and pocketbooks of a very few. As far as we are aware, it is not in the mission of the Forest Service to provide unbounded business opportunities to a small company at the expense of most of the other forest users.
AQRC believes that natural quiet is a natural resource. If these permits were granted as written, that natural resource would be sacrificed over the vast areas requested in the permits. The proposals are asking for far too much. Â The number of takeoffs and landings would subject those under the flight paths and in the landing areas to an intolerable amount of noise. Â Thirty takeoffs and landings is 60 flights over homes, cabins, skiers, people just out to enjoy the forest, and wildlife. This is a number right up there with living in Juneau during the summer. It is irresponsible to allow that in a public forest where non-motorized activities are owed a fair share of the recreational lands.
The cumulative effects of snowmachine noise and air noise need to be addressed. In addition, there should be no recreational air Â noise allowed in those pitifully few areas of the forest closed to snowmachines under the new Management Plan.
We also feel that it is important to avoid issuing permits for any areas that may be eligible for wilderness designation in the future. Recreational machines have no place in true wilderness. In our view it would be tragic to compromise future wilderness proposals by allowing helicopters in these areas now.
AQRC requests that an environmental impact statement be prepared before these proposals be considered. We believe this to be mandatory when such large changes are contemplated.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment.