Hatcher Pass Snowmobile Parking Areas and Trailheads

April 2, 2012

Mat Su Borough

Community Development Dept.

350 E. Dahlia

Palmer, AK 99645


Re: MSB006695 – Hatcher Pass Snowmobile Parking Areas and Trailheads


Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) comments regarding the draft report and public/private evaluation committee preliminary recommendations are as follows:


First and foremost we want to express disappointment about public process and participation in this draft, or should we say, lack thereof.  On P. 5 of the report it states, that “…four principal sources of information were utilized: the 2010 Hatcher Pass Management Plan; the AK Div. of Parks & Outdoor Rec.; motorized user organizations; and the general public.”  We want to point out that the general public was not invited or included in the drafting of this report.  Once again, the balance of representatives from the general public contributing to changes in the recreational development of Hatcher Pass is sorely lacking.

In the future if there are any changes or plans drafted regarding recreation in Hatcher Pass we request to be notified so that our members can participate and offer their ideas and input.


Additional concerns about this draft report:

On P. 41 it states there will be a “reconnaissance level analysis” for access, parking and trailhead locations on the south side of Government Peak and there are three sites listed for this reconnaissance analysis:

A.  A new snowmobile trailhead and corridor through the designated non-motorized

Borough land that would start from the new road into the Nordic trails area.

(No map shown)

This would create conflicts, public safety issues and is totally incompatible with a Nordic Ski area.  Despite the fact that the south side of Government Peak has been designated non- motorized for 25 years, there are more and more snowmobilers and 4 wheelers using the area illegally.



Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition P.O. Box 202592, Anchorage, AK 99520    http://www.alaskaquietrights.org/

DNR and the Borough have been negligent in enforcing this designation and haven’t even posted any signs stating the area is closed to motorized users.  Groomed trails will be impacted and obliterated once the Nordic area is opened because riders will not stay on corridors.  In fact, riders want to park close to a mountain so they can get out of the parking area quickly and begin high marking mountainsides.


On P. 10 of the report it states three reasons why a trailhead and corridor in the non-motorized area is a bad idea and we agree:

“First, because of wetlands and water body limitations, parking areas … would be in close proximity to private land;

Second, a snowmobile corridor … would create unnecessary conflict and public safety issues;

Third, a snowmobile corridor would be difficult and expensive to build as the terrain crosses numerous water bodies, gullies and other physical limitations.”


B.  A new snowmobile trailhead at the end of Edgerton Parks Rd. (Map 6)

C.  A new snowmobile trailhead off of Schrock Rd. (Map 5)


Trails from the trailheads listed above in B & C, according to the maps, will apparently end at the western boundary of non-motorized Government Peak south side at Government Creek.   These proposed new trailheads will require extending the existing roads and require expensive land acquisition and road construction.  They would also open the door for another access point for snowmobiles to trespass across the western boundary of Government Peak south side.  Again making enforcement difficult.  The current Edgerton Parks Road is not capable of handling a large increase in traffic


Enforcement of designated non-motorized areas throughout the Government Peak area

This has been the elephant in the room for many years.  This must be dealt with and soon.  There was a signed Memorandum of Agreement between DNR State Parks and the Mat Su Borough stating that State Parks would be the enforcers on the borough owned land, but this never came to fruition. With the revised HP plan in transition as regulations are approved and implemented there is a promise to draft a new agreement.  When?  The borough also stated in the past that they would be willing to provide funding to state parks for a ranger to enforce the non-motorized designation.  This also has not come to fruition.  We understand that the state parks budget is severely limited so it would behoove the borough to work cooperatively with them and provide funds for enforcement.  If a world class Nordic Ski venue and Alpine area are to become reality then enforcement is critical.


AQRC supports the following:

The East Side

Expanding or creating trailhead parking is problematic and no one is talking about the carrying capacity of Hatcher Pass.  Recreational destinations such as Eklutna Lake simply close the area when parking lots are full and people go elsewhere.  They recognize the area can only handle so much. Therefore, if trailhead parking is going to be expanded anywhere on the East side of Hatcher Pass, it should be at the Gold Mint Trailhead where the terrain most easily allows for an expansion of the existing parking lot.  We do not support expanding parking at Archangel road.  Again, it is a carrying capacity issue.

Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition P.O. Box 202592, Anchorage, AK 99520    http://www.alaskaquietrights.org/

The West Side

A new trailhead to the West side of Hatcher Pass from Zero Lake near Houston and expanding the existing trailhead at the end of the plowed road on Willow Fishhook Road are good recommendations and we are in support of these.

The Hatcher Pass Management Plan of 1986, the 1989 amendment and the current 2010 HP plan contain discussion and many proposals for developing more infrastructure on the West Side of Hatcher Pass.  The State and DNR need to look seriously at providing this infrastructure as pressure escalates from increasing recreational use on the east side.  We suggest that the motorized community which seems to have the ear of the legislature and wield much influence in securing funding for their interests could work with DNR and the legislature to fund this West Side infrastructure.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and we again request to be included in all things pertaining to recreational development in Hatcher Pass.






Susan Olsen

President, Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition