|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||August 23, 2011|
|Contact:||Jim Stratton, NPCA Alaska Regional Director, 907.229.9761|
Wrangell-St. Elias Off-Road Vehicle Trails to Be Improved Under New Plan
ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is pleased with the decision by the National Park Service to finalize a sustainable trail management plan for the Nabesna Road area of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Under the plan announced today, trails in the park that have suffered long-term damage from off-road vehicle (ORV) use will be improved and repaired to ensure that qualified local residents can use the trail system for subsistence activities and access to private property. Hunters and recreationists who are not local residents will continue to be able to use ORVs on trails in the National Preserve once those trails are improved to a sustainable level.
Damage to some of the trails includes mud holes up to a hundred yards wide (comparable to a football field) and several miles long, accelerated melting of permafrost, and damage to wildlife habitat and water quality. The National Park Service improvements will include designs that are site-specific and tested for long-term effectiveness in the Alaska landscape. These include installing bridges and trail hardening materials like Geoblock and gravel, or re-routing some trails out of wetlands to drier land, in order to create a rigid surface tread that will sustain motorized ORV use, minimize trail degradation and reduce impacts to national park resources.
“This is totally awesome news with a big thank you to the Park Service. Finally, these ORV trails will be improved for local folks who use these trails for hunting, fishing, berry-picking, and access to their remote cabins,” said NPCA Alaska Sr. Regional Director Jim Stratton. “Another benefit of this plan is that the Wrangell-St. Elias hiking trail system will be expanded for all park visitors, creating new places to explore on foot while enjoying our country’s largest national park.”
In order for this plan to move forward, the Park Service needs to secure funding (approximately $4 million) so that crews can be hired to work fixing the trails over the next three to five years. This trail work is an opportunity for the Park Service to provide sorely needed jobs for local residents.
The Nabesna Road Off-Highway Vehicle Trails Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement is a result of a settlement between the National Park Service and NPCA, along with co-litigants the Alaska Center for the Environment and The Wilderness Society, which required the Park Service to evaluate and develop solutions to the damaging impacts of recreational ORVV use on park resources. The original lawsuit and its settlement did not restrict access to the park by local subsistence users living in resident zone communities around the park.
The nine impacted trails in Wrangell-St. Elias included: Suslota Lake, Tanada Lake, Caribou Creek, Lost Creek, Trail Creek, Reeve Field, Boomerang Lake, Soda Lake, and Copper Lake.
IMAGES OF TRAIL DAMAGE FROM ORVs:
= Trails off the Nabesna Road going to Copper and Tanada Lakes:http://www.npca.org/media_center/wrangell-atv1.html
= Mudhole on Tanada Lake Trail: http://www.npca.org/media_center/wrangell-atv2.html
= Tanada Lake Trail: http://www.npca.org/media_center/wrangell-atv3.html
EXAMPLE OF A REPAIRED TRAIL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30346074@N04/6059142881/