Mat-Su Regional Aviation System Plan

To: Tom Middendorf,

cc: John Duffy, Mat-Su Borough Manager,

Tom Kluberton, Mat-Su Borough Assembly,

Brad Sworts, Mat-Su Borough Planning Dept.,

Reference: Matansuka-Susitna Borough Regional Aviation System Plan

From: Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition

P.O. Box 202592

Anchorage, Ak  99520

The Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) is a statewide organization that recognizes natural quiet and natural sounds as resources to be protected on our public lands.  It represents  the users of public lands and private land owners and seeks to protect the rights of both to quiet places and a fair allocation of our public lands to nonmotorized recreational opportunities. This letter of comment on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Regional Aviation System Plan is submitted on behalf of the AQRC Board of Directors.

Draft airport location study and recommended sites:

The AQRC opposes locating an airport at either mile 121 or mile 131 of the George Parks Highway for the following reasons:

1)  The noise of approaching and departing aircraft from an airport impacts a much larger area then the actual foot print of an airport.  This is especially pronounced when the length of an airport can accommodate jets  as is proposed in the RASP for these two site considerations.  Noise associated with either proposed airport location would negatively impact the very activities that are attracting residents, visitors, tourist and businesses to the South Denali region.  For many years the South Denali region has been recognized for the magnificent views of Denali and the Alaska Range and the recreational and interpretive opportunities it offers.  To meet these goals Denali State Park was established in 1970 and Denali National Park was expanded to the south in 1980.  There are plans by the State of Alaska and the National Park Service to build a visitor center on Curry Ridge east of mile 134.5 along with a campground and trails.  Many people enjoy hiking the alpine tundra of Kesugi and Curry Ridges and floating the Chulitna River.  Princess Tours already operates a very large hotel at the southern boundary of Denali State Park east of mile 132 and it is said that Holland America intends to build a hotel.  South of DSP and west of the Parks Highway there are many private lots and cabins.  This land was made available through several State of Alaska land programs that advertised recreational property.  Airport noise would be a detriment  to all these activities and business opportunities.  Noise associated with a jet airport would also have an adverse affect on wildlife. Wildlife is a resource that attracts many people to Alaska’s parks yet their habitat is constantly being encroached upon.

2)  To maintain the integrity of the South Denali region, the scenic value and sound scape that attracts people to the area now and in the future it is very important that development along the George Parks Highway north of Trapper Creek does not make it into a strip, industrial zone.  An airport at mile 121 or 131 is not compatible with protecting the approach to South Denali.  Airports require a lot of cleared land and infrastructure and attract industrial type businesses.  Such development would detract from the entry route to the region.

Draft regional aviation system plan:

1)  The AQRC agrees  with the recommendation that the Matanuska-Susitna Borough adopts an ordinance regulating the building of new private airstrips, airparks, helipads,  and public airports and float plane bases.  There needs to be a land use permit required to develop any of these facilities that is subject to strict requirements and public input.   The ordinance must not only regulate safety concerns, but also deal with impacts of noise associated with aircraft and have the ability not to allow the development of a proposed airport for reasons that are not compatible with surrounding land uses.


Brian Okonek, Member of AQRC Board of Directors