USFS Special Use Permit Request re Manitoba Cabin Access

Nov. 25, 2012
Thank you for the information and the opportunity to offer the comments of the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) on the proposed special use permit to allow motorized use of the Forest Service easement to support to the Hut’s operations at the Manitoba cabin. AQRC is a state-wide non-profit organization whose mission is to maintain the restore natural sounds and natural quiet in Alaska through advocacy and education for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The obvious question and concern raised by this request is how the Hut’s Association and/or the Forest Service (FS) will insure that recreational motorized users will not seize this opportunity to access this area and the non-motorized Forest Service areas ? While signage may help, we firmly believe that only adequate monitoring and enforcement will be able to control the situation. Further, we assume, though we do not know, that the loop trail will be open to snowmachines since it is on state land. Depending on the location of the loop trail, the noise of snowmachines could easily destroy the purpose of the FS’s non-motorized prescription on the adjacent lands.

We support the Hut’s efforts as a way to enable non-motorized recreationists to more easily access the backcountry. We support awarding the special use permit to enable management of the Manitoba Hut, but in the absence of an enforceable plan in place to restrict use of the FS easement to Hut’s operations only, we must oppose; fearing that granting the permit will only lead to substantial snowmachine traffic. One mitigation measure we do suggest is that the FS could restrict use of the easement for the gathering of firewood to a specific, limited time in the spring, thereby limiting the impact of grooming as an invitation to snowmachines.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.
Susan Olsen, President,