Knik River PUA: Scoping

Brandon McCutcheon 12/29/06

Project Manager, Knik River Public Use Area

550 W 7th Ave Suite 1050

Anchorage, AK 99501

Dear Mr. McCutcheon,

This letter is submitted by the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) as comment on the Knik River Public Use Area for the scoping phase of the planning.

AQRC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of natural quiet on our public lands for the benefit of quiet recreationists, home and cabin owners, and wildlife. We have more than 600 members and supporters around the state. AQRC was formed almost ten years ago in response to the proliferation of recreational machines and the resulting rapid loss of natural quiet. We advocate for a fair share of public land use for both non-motorized and motorized activities.

Natural quiet (natural sounds) is a valuable natural resource. The sounds of wind and water, bird calls and other wildlife are an essential part of the outdoor experience. When machines obliterate natural quiet, the reason for being in the natural world is lost to the quiet recreational user, the reason the home or cabin owner located in a rural area is gone, and the wildlife are stressed, displaced, or unable to communicate.

The past history of the Knik River area is a perfect example of what happens when unregulated public land use by recreational machines occurs. The area is trashed and torn up,  streams are disrupted, wildlife such as the trumpeter swans abandon their nesting, formerly peaceful communities like Butte are assaulted with noise, and those persons who seek to fish and hunt quietly or simply canoe and walk are displaced and cannot enjoy their own public lands. Quiet recreation users are not only threatened by the racket of machines but are physically in danger from the speeding and the gunfire.

AQRC believes that the establishment of the Knik River Public Use Area is an excellent opportunity to provide a fair share of this area for natural quiet. for the benefit of both wildlife, the local community and recreation.

We recommend:

1) that the Jim-Swan area in particular be set aside for non-motorized designation. Airboats, jet skis, ATVs, snowmachines, dirt bikes and all other motorized equipment have no place in critical wetlands and habitat areas.

2) that the uplands near the Jim-Swan area, the local trails like the Rippy Trail, and a wide buffer zone around the area be designated as non-motorized. It is well established that noise of motorized vehicles carries a very long way.

3) that an enforcement plan for regulations be an essential part of the management plan. Years of experience in the area has shown that while education is necessary it is in no way sufficient to protect the resource.  Because this is an already damaged place from the invasion of particularly insensitive scofflaws, simple signage will not be adequate as it might in some other location. DNR and the State Troopers need to have a cooperative management agreement.

4) that zones of non-motorized use and no firearm use be established to protect the peace and quiet of local residents and quiet trail users.

5) that ORV access trails be limited to those dry areas where ORV use will not damage the surroundings.

6) that an area wide trail plan be drawn that gives fair, quiet, and safe access to the non-motorized users.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Elizabeth Hatton

Board member, AQRC

8601 Sultana Drive

Anchorage, AK 99516