350 E. Dahlia Avenue
Palmer, AK 99645
Ref: Crystal Lake management plan
Dear Mr. Allen:
It has been brought to the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition’s (AQRC) attention that the majority of property owners at Crystal Lake in Willow are in favor of a lake management plan and you are the planner working with them in this effort. We applaud the Mat-Su Borough for having this option available for its lake property owners and hope such a plan can be developed and approved for Crystal Lake.
We have been informed that the unregulated use of jet skis on the lake is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those living there, even making it impossible to hold conversations outdoors during the summer months. Jet skis are loud and the constant change in pitch, due to changes in acceleration, is highly disruptive and annoying. Jet skis have the ability to go close to the shoreline and the wakes and noise created as well as sheer presence are highly destructive to wildlife habitat and nesting birds. It seems ironic that the property rights of the majority of property owners , such as peace and quiet in and around one’s home, are being trumped by the conduct of a relatively few property owners. While access to a public lake may not be denied, we believe conduct certainly can be regulated. The ability to regulate conduct is the very purpose of the lake management plan program. We urge you to work closely with the Crystal Lake residents in their efforts to create a lake management plan that will restore the lake to the attributes that attracted them there.
The AQRC is dedicated to protecting the rights of Alaskans to quiet places for the benefit of public land users, home and cabin owners, communities, businesses, wildlife, visitors, and future generations. Alaska’s natural beauty, wildness, wildlife, expanses of undisturbed open space, and peace and quiet are among its most cherished values, and Alaskans, our visitors, and future generations have the right to experience the natural sights, sounds and quiet beauty of our state. In the vast majority of cases, the obtrusive noise, summer landscape degradation and winter snowscape defacement, exhaust, and dangers of motorized recreation are incompatible with those special natural experiences and with quiet homes and neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, though, natural quiet and the opportunity to hear and enjoy natural sounds are increasingly hard to find in our state—a fact which would surprise the great majority of non-residents for whom Alaska is a potent symbol of the natural and the wild, not of noisy mechanization. Although there are many places in Alaska that look the same as they did 100 or more years ago, very few sound as they did only 10 or 20 years earlier. Consequently, not only do we need to protect those quiet areas that still remain, but we need to restore many previously quiet lands to their former, more natural, more pristine condition. Most of us, until quite recently, took the restorative quiet of the outdoors for granted. We assumed that the backcountry or rural location we chose to live would always provide a quiet refuge from the noise, busyness and artificiality of our towns and cities. That assumption, to our great chagrin, has proven to be false. We now know that natural quiet and natural sounds require our—the public, and the public’s stewards, the land managers—constant vigilance if they’re to survive even into the middle of our present century.
Natural quiet and natural sounds should be recognized by public land managers, planners and legislative bodies as critical resources in and of themselves that deserve no less consideration than clean air and water or fish and wildlife and their habitat. Soundscape plans should be prepared. Any governmental analysis of proposed agency actions should include a determination of the possible effects on natural quiet and natural sounds and on the humans and wildlife that enjoy or depend on them. Lake management plans that address these issues should be encouraged and adopted for all lakes in the MSB.
Brian Okonek, President
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition