Hatcher Pass Management Plan: talking points

IF you want your kids and grandchildren to be able to enjoy QUIET recreation in Hatcher Pass, you need to speak up LOUDLY now at the public meetings and/or through a letter/email.

Wasilla 4/1 6:30-9 Central Mat-Su Fire & EMS Station, corner of

Lucille St. and Swanson Ave.

Anchorage 4/6 6:30-9 Central Middle School of Science, corner of 14th

and E St.

You may submit written comments until May 5, 2010 to: DNR, DIV. of Mining.Land & Water, Resource Assessment & Development Section, 550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1050, Anchorage 99501-3579 or via email to: dnr.mlw.hpmp@alaska.gov. Access the Hatcher Pass Management Plan Public Review Draft at http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/planning/mgtplans/hatcher_2009

If you say or write nothing else, say or write:

The simplest, most effective way to safely manage the 301,110 acres in Hatcher Pass for multi-use recreation is to separate the East and West sides, designating the East for non-motorized activity and the West for motorized activities. Multi-use generally does not work for the non-motorized recreationist.

A single motorized corridor would extend from the parking lot(s) on the East side to the non-restricted West side. The primary reason for this division is the issue of public safety. This separation of motorized activity from quiet recreation would also eliminate conflicts,  confusion as to the location of  boundaries and greatly simplify enforcement efforts.  It would also eliminate the possibility of degradation of the resource from summer ATV and off-road activity in the East Side. Resource damage has already occurred in the West side and this plan fails to adequately address how it will be rectified or controlled. The East side units include the: Government Peak, 16 Mile, Reed Lakes/Little Susitna, High Glacier Peaks, Archangel and Independence units containing 72,330 acres.

Dividing Hatcher Pass into a non-motorized East Side and a motorized West Side would mean that 72,330 acres, or  24%, would be reserved for quiet recreation and 228,892 acres, or 75% reserved for motorized recreation. The plan as presented in the Public Review Draft recommends (only) 15,792 acres, or 5.2%, be closed to year round motorized recreation or, put another way, reserved for quiet recreation !

If you also want to get into some specific comments for individual management units, here are some details AQRC suggests you consider for your letter or testimony:



1) Closing Marmot Mt. to snowmachining in the Independence( in accordance with the original 1986 Plan) and Archangel (winter option) units, to prevent snowmachines from speeding through skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and sledders and eliminate high marking in the areas above these quiet recreationists.

2) Creating separate trails/routes for non-motorized and snowmachines on or along Archangel Road. The current and recommended designation of this road to be multi-use  creates a  very dangerous situation with speeding machines and near misses of non-motorized recreationists.

3) Total separation of non-motorized winter trails and areas from areas and trails open to snowmachining with the single exception of the existing East-West route enabling snowmachines to go from the parking areas on the East side to access the unrestricted 228,982  acres of the Kashwitna, Willow Mountain, Bald Mt,/Hillside and Craigie Creek units on the West side.

4) Closing Mile 16 unit to snowmachining.


5) Assigning management responsibilities to DPOR in all closed areas so there is some capacity to enforce the regulations in Hatcher Pass.


6) Year-round closure of High Glacier Peaks to motorized uses in order to protect the mountain huts which were built twenty years ago by the Mountaineering Club of Alaska on land leased from the state The Plan’s text states that there is no summer motorized recreational use of the area and (only) “some” winter motorized uses.


7) Development of the proposed new trailhead and parking facilities.

8) Adoption of a trails plan prior to making any trailhead or parking facilities improvements so that new infrastructure is coordinated with new trails/routes.



1) Opening any currently closed areas to motorized uses.

a) In particular, oppose opening the Reed Lakes closed area to snowmachines.  The original rationale for creating Special Use Areas and thereby closing the area to snowmachines, “to provide opportunities for a quiet, backcounty recreational experience accessible from a road system” is still valid and is still necessary;  opening it to snowmachining would place a dagger in the heart of the High Glacier Peaks unit and its huts (unless the unit has a year-round closure) and in the entire Hatcher Plan ONLY 5.2%, or 15,792 acres, are closed to snowmachines or, stated more positively, reserved for quiet recreation!

b) Opening Reed Lakes closed area for the creation of a snowmachine “play area” to accommodate inexperienced drivers. In the Mat-Su Borough with its 15,000,000 plus acres, the state owns over 9,000,000 acres, of which 6,000,000  are state general domain land and 3,000,000 are LDA or otherwise specially designated lands. Surely within the 6,000,000 acres, being “managed” under Generally Allowed Uses which essentially means NO motorized restrictions, a snowmachine “play area” can be found.

2) Putting a summer ATV corridor through the Mile 16 unit. The text does not indicate usage which would warrant putting a motorized route through what essentially is a non-motorized area. The Plan presents no measures which would keep ATVs on a designated route and enforcement is not even mentioned.


3) Putting a summer ATV corridor alongside the Archangel Road may well create Issues of safety and conflict since the road itself is open to cars and trucks. Further, what purpose does it serve to have an ATV route paralleling the road  and which, ending at Fern Mine, would require the ATV to turn around and go back ? The plan states that “off-road use” is not allowed, but it contains no discussion as to how this would be achieved or enforced.