Last Update, Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Hatcher Pass East Management Area reopens to snowmobiles
(Palmer, AK) – Due to cooler-than-expected weather over the last weekend, Alaska State Parks has temporarily reopened the Hatcher Pass East Management Area to snowmobile use.
The snowpack has softened but assessments late Monday revealed that the snow could still support snowmobiles without impacting underlying vegetation.
Trails remain in fair condition and are in better condition in higher elevations. While traveling at lower elevations, riders are urged to stay on trails where the snowpack is firmer. Snowcat grooming operations for both cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails have been suspended for the season between the Gold Mint Trailhead, Summit Lake, and Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Conditions will be assessed daily and the area is subject to abrupt closures to snowmobile use on any day, depending on the weather. For further information, please contact the Mat-Su Area State Parks Headquarters at 745-3975. (4/15/2014)
Alaska Historical Commission awards anniversary grants
(Anchorage, AK) - The Alaska Historical Commission at its meeting last week in Juneau awarded nearly $100,000 in grants for 11 projects around the state to promote research and planning for upcoming anniversaries of significant events and places in Alaska’s history. The recipients include:
• Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cold War oral history project
• St. George Episcopal Church, Red Dragon Reading Room historic building assessment
• Port Chilkoot, Fort Seward barracks interpretive signs
• Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska, St. Nicholas Church in Juneau dome rehabilitation, and Holy Assumption Church in Kenai bell tower
• Gastineau Channel Historical Society, rehabilitation work at Jualpa Mine Camp
• Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, Nike Site Point interpretive signs
• Talkeetna Historical Society, community centennial planning
• Kodiak Historical Society, Exxon Valdez oil spill remembered student film project
• Sitka Historical Society & Sitka National Historical Park, Russian America conference proceedings publication
• Alaska Historical Society, historic cannery preservation initiative planning
“Villages, cities and towns around Alaska have discovered the value our history has for tourism and education. These grants will jump start a number of cool projects as Alaska nears 150 years as part of the United States,” said Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, chair of the Alaska Historical Commission.
In other actions at the meeting, members elected Jonathon Ross of Chugiak to serve as vice-chair of the commission for 2014. The members reviewed and approved a proposal to name Globemaster Peak, an unnamed peak north of western Prince William Sound where a devastating plane crash occurred in 1952 and only recently has evidence of the accident been found. Lastly, Alaska Historical Commission members discussed the National Archives and Records Administration’s decision to close its facility in Anchorage and determined to express their objection to the decision, noting in particular that an open public process before announcing the decision did not occur.
Additional information about the Alaska Historical Commission and its activities is available at www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/oha/index.htm, by calling 907-269-8721 or writing the Alaska Historical Commission, 550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1310, Anchorage, AK 99501-3565.
Nancy Lake areas closing to snowmachine use on April 14
(Palmer, AK) – Due to the current warming trend, Alaska State Parks announces that the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area will close to snowmachine use at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 14.
If there is a dramatic change in the weather and colder temperatures keep the snowpack from diminishing, State Park Rangers will re-evaluate conditions and the public will be notified. (4/10/2014)
Poems in Place submissions for Southwest, Mat-Su parks extended to April 30
(Anchorage, AK) – The Poems in Place Project, a collaboration of Alaska State Parks, the Alaska Center for the Book, and a steering committee of Alaskan writers and poets, has extended its public call for poems celebrating the Wood-Tikchik State Park/Alegnagik State Recreation Site near Dillingham and the Independence Mine State Historical Park near Palmer. Alaskans now have until April 30 to submit up to three poems each – either poems written in response to the solicitation or poems previously written by an Alaskan poet. There are no fees to submit poems and an honorarium will be paid to the poets whose work is selected for installment.
The goal of the Poems in Place Project is to install poems on permanent signs in state parks throughout Alaska. The first poetry installation in this series – the poem “What Whales and Infants Know,” by Kim Cornwall – occurred in 2011 at Beluga Point in Chugach State Park, with support from Homer writer Wendy Erd, Alaska State Parks, and the Alaska State Council on the Arts. In September 2013, poems by Alaskan writers Ernestine Hayes and Emily Wall were installed at Totem Bight State Historical Park near Ketchikan and poems by Frank Soos and the late John Haines were installed at Chena River State Recreation Area near Fairbanks.
For submission rules, go to http://www.alaskacenterforthebook.org/id113.html. To see examples of current Poems in Place installations, go to http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/misc/poemplace.htm
The Poems in Place project is supported by Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Usibelli Foundation, the Alaska Poetry League, Alaska Center for the Book, and numerous generous individuals.
Grant available for snowmobile safety and trail signing project in rural Alaska
(Anchorage, AK) - The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is inviting interested organizations to apply for a one-time $15,000 grant that can be used for snowmobile safety and trail signing/marking projects on trails used primarily as transportation corridors in rural Alaska, off the road system. The money for this grant had been previously allocated in 2013 but not utilized by the original grantee.
The Snowmobile Trail Grant Program offers competitive and reimbursable matching grants for developing and maintaining public snowmobile trails and related facilities and for safety, education, and trail signing projects. The Snowmobile Trail Grant Program’s Grooming Pool provides funding for trail grooming, signing, and maintenance. The program is funded with an annual appropriation by the Legislature, based on revenue from snowmobile registration fees.
To apply for these grant funds please visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/grants/snowmotr.htm and submit an application for a Safety, Signing, and Educational Project. The application deadline is July 1, 2014. For additional information regarding SnowTRAC or the Snowmobile Trails Grant Program, contact State Trails Program Coordinator Darcy Harris at email@example.com , by standard mail at 550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1380, Anchorage, AK 99501, or by phone at 907-269-8699. (4/1/2014)
Cooper Landing Boat Launch temporarily closed for repairs
(Cooper Landing, AK) – The Cooper Landing State Recreation Site boat launch on the Kenai River is temporarily closed through March 31 for minor repairs and improvements to the boat launch. The area directly across the Kenai River from the boat launch is open and provides public access to the river.
For more information, please contact the Kenai/Prince William Sound Area state parks office at 262-5581. (3/13/2014)
2014 Recreational Trails Grants tentatively approved for funding
The following Recreational Trails Program projects have been tentatively approved by the Outdoor Recreational Trails Advisory Board and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and are subject to final approval from the Federal Highways Administration.
Trail Gate: Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation/ Northern: A grant for $14,644, will fund the purchase and installation of locking gates at: Compeau Trail, Stiles Creek Trail System (3 gates), Mastodon Trail, Granite Tors, Lower Chena Dome, Angel Rocks and Angel Creek Tail in the Chena River State Recreation Area. Temporarily closing these locking gates during spring break-up will help protect natural resources, decrease maintenance costs, and reduce trail degradation. They may also be used to temporary close the trail for management or public safety reasons.
Tanana Lakes Trail: Phase III Fairbanks North Star Borough, Dept. of Parks and Recreation: A grant for $50,000 will fund the FNSB to construct a 2,000ft section of non-motorized trail within the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. This portion of trail will be constructed of gravel and recycled asphalt pavement and will follow the shoreline of Goose Island providing vistas of the non-motorized lake which is managed for swimming, paddling and birding.
Fairbanks Dog Park Inc.: A grant for $30,000 will construct an additional 500 foot long trail loop at the Fairbanks dog park, smooth frost heaves in the existing trail and link the existing fenced training area to the existing trail. One trail link will include a culvert to convey seasonal runoff.
Point Bridget Trail Restoration: Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation/ Southeast: A grant for $36,712, will fund a project to repair and reclaim 3/4 mile of heavily damaged sections of the Point Bridget Trail, improving access to three of the most popular public use cabins on the Juneau road system. Grant funding is necessary to provide contract labor, gravel, helicopter time, lumber, and subsistence food for remote spike camps.
Eyak Mountain: Copper River Watershed Project: The Copper River Watershed Project will utilize $17,781.19 in grant funds to complete restoration of the Eyak Mountain Trail, an historic trail originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. Work will consist of finishing establishment of 487' of new trail bed sections in a public right of way (in summer 2013 the CRWP began moving this trail section from private lots to public ROW) and installing 656 linear feet of "step and run" board walk in boggy muskeg meadows to protect these wetlands areas. This one-mile trail connects with a 16-mile network of Cordova area trails.
Upper Dewey Lake Trails Restoration: The Municipality of Skagway: A grant for $49,996 will fund this project which is part of a multi-phase process of restoring the Upper Dewey Lake Trail as well as performing deferred repairs to remedy rutted and dangerous sections of the trail bed. The proposed reconstruction will restore safe footing and ease of maintenance.
North Fork Parking lot: Snomads, Inc.: A grant for $50,000 will fund this project to construct a 1.4 acre parking lot on State Land at the beginning of the multi-use North Fork Trail and adjacent to North Fork Road. This well-used trail accesses prime recreation and hunting areas on the lower Kenai Peninsula. Developing a parking area at this trailhead will increase public access to these resources, and will prevent environmental degradation and adjacent landowner conflicts by establishing sufficient legal parking for all users.
Water Hole and Straight-in Trail: Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers: A grant for $8,373.40 will fund this project to fill in trail bed washouts, repair and improve drainage and trail tread on Waterhole and Straight-In trails.
Track Loader purchase: Tsalteshi Trails: Tsalteshi Trails Association has constructed over 20 kilometers of trails on approximately 400 acres of land owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. There is no more room for major trail construction and now the trails association is tasked with repairing and improving the existing trail system. A grant for $50,000 will fund the purchase of a skid steer (compact track loader) with available attachments will enable the organization to mow, mulch, grade, set posts for signs, move downed trees, improve drainage, and landscape, etc. during the summer and move snow and break up frost heaves in the winter.
Restoring Kachemak Bay Interpretive Trails: Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies: A grant for $49,989 will fund this project to restore 443 feet of heavily-used trail at the Peterson Bay Field Station by brushing trail, clearing, and removing large stumps and roots, and re-routing 170 feet of the trail to higher ground. It will also improve 1,190 feet of trail at the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center so that it is more accessible to young children, mildly impaired individuals, and senior citizens. It will also involve building puncheons and boardwalk at each location in designated spots on the trail.
Lookout Mountain Maintenance Building: Kachemak Nordic Ski Club: A grant for $30,000 will allow Kachemak Nordic Ski Club members and volunteers to complete phase II of the Lookout Mountain Maintenance Building which was constructed at the Lookout Mt. trailhead, with support from a 2013 RTP grant. Phase II improvements will include electrical, heating, insulation, exterior siding, interior sheetrock, workbenches and shelving, chairs, fuel tank installation, shed roof addition, seeding, bollards, a short connector trail between the building and the existing trail system, and a trailhead kiosk.
YRC North Peninsula Trail Maintenance: Youth Restoration Corps: A grant for $46,569 will allow Youth Restoration Corps crews of six high school aged youth (16 to 19) to work under the supervision of YRC adult leaders with the planned project oversight of North Peninsula Recreation service area to provide needed repair on existing trails. This collective effort will include placement of signs developed by Nikiski High School students, trail brush clearing, gravel placement, and drainage improvement.
Willow Grooming Equipment: Willow Area Community Organization: Grant funding of $49,096.38 will allow WACO to purchase an hydraulic, multi-bladed snow groomer/drag and a front blade assembly including all attachments for use with a Willow Trail Committee-owned Snowcat tracked vehicle. When this project is complete, the equipment will be used for grooming and maintaining the West Gateway Trail System in Willow.
Polaris UTV purchase: Mat-Su Trails Council: The Mat-Su Trails Council will receive partial funding of $4000 to help purchase a Polaris diesel powered UTV. The UTV will be used to support trail maintenance and trail construction projects.
Wide-track purchase: Montana Creek Motor Mushers: Grant funding of $12,000 will purchase a wide-track snowmachine to tow groomers on South Fork Montana Creek Trail. A new machine will replace a 10 year old machine and allow for continued grooming for the users of this trail system.
Palmer Bike Park: Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers (VMBaH): Grant funds of $50,000 will help VMBaH build a community bike-park within the Matanuska River Park – a place where cyclists of all ages and abilities can learn new biking skills and ride with confidence on all types of terrain. New trails will incorporate ideas from the Matanuska River Park Master Plan, which include a small pump track trail, dirt jump trail, and beginner-intermediate flow trail.
Fixing the Trails/ Denali State Park: Student Conservation Association: With grant funds of $41,021, SCA will collaborate with Denali State Park to provide a multi-week trail crew that will work to improve, harden, and maintain Troublesome Creek and Byers Lake trails in their most used and damaged sections. The crew will install an 80' boardwalk at TM 99+00 on Troublesome. Trail work will focus on tread work and will include drainage control, brushing, and rock work.
Fixing Mt. Baldy Trail/ Chugach State Park: Student Conservation Association: With grant funds of $47,670 SCA will collaborate with Chugach State Park to support the trail layout, design, re-routing, and repair of the extremely popular Mt Baldy Trail in Chugach State Park. Due to its popularity, the trail suffers from serious erosion and braided social trails. Funding will cover the cost for Interior Trails to do the layout according to federal and state specifications and SCA will provide a multi-week trail crew to begin repair.
Fox Trails: Matanuska Susitna Borough: With grant funds of $32,552, the MSB will construct two 36" wide single track non-motorized trails totaling 1.2 miles using modern sustainable best practices in the Matanuska Greenbelt on Matanuska Susitna Borough Public Recreation property. The trails will enhance and expand the existing trail network, provide connectivity to adjoining trails, and give trail users more options for dispersed recreation.
Girdwood Bridge: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club: With funds of $50,000, this project will repair and replace damaged bridges that are crucial for safety of recreational travel and winter grooming. The bridges were placed to connect the cross country ski trails in Girdwood, and now serve as a main trail connection within our trail system.
Historic Iditarod Trail repair: Friends of Eagle River Nature Center: With grant funds of $10,406, this project will support improvements to 3 miles of the Historic Iditarod Trail which are under the management of Friends of Eagle River Nature Center. Improvements include filling in and hardening low spots, replacing rotting boards and supports of existing boardwalks, and improving access in overgrown areas along the length of trail. To accomplish this, the proposal requests funds to purchase 50 yards of D-1 and Type IIa (3") gravel and rock, various sizes of outdoor grade lumber and hardware, and a "Billy Goat" BC26 Series Outback Brush-cutter.
Nature Center Trails: Friends of Eagle River Nature Center: Grant funds of $26,582 will purchase a Bob Cat Mini Track Loader MT55, ride behind model to help repair the trails leading from the Eagle River Nature Center. It is the correct width to do work on these trails and has a wide range of attachments which can be added: digger, backhoe, snow blower, trencher and many others. One person will be able to accomplish difficult trail work, including loading gravel and rock, digging trenches, and moving earth.
Ruth Arcand Trails: Anchorage Horse Council: Grant funding of $50,000 will allow the Anchorage Horse Council to continue its program to rehabilitate, reclaim, and enhance the multi-use trail system within the Ruth Arcand Park. This includes improving elevation, grading, drainage improvements, and the installation and compaction of high-strength geotech fabric and appropriate footing material in order to protect trail surfaces from future degradation, improve water quality, and to provide a safer, more enjoyable environment for all park users.
Napaimute Winter Trail System: The Native Village of Napaimute: The Napaimute Winter Trail Project will use grant funds of $49,720 to purchase wooden markers with reflective tape, locally made by Kalskag High School Vocational-Education students, to mark a winter trail from Crooked Creek to Kalskag. This will link the Middle and Lower Kuskokwim trail systems. The markers will enhance safe travel in marginal weather, and at night for recreational purposes, as well as for public transportation.
Kodiak Island Trail Signage Demonstration Project: Island Trails Network: Island Trails Network will use grant funds of $21,251 to purchase sign-making equipment and carry out a series of demonstration projects to begin implementing a uniform and cost-effective system of informational and directional signage throughout the 368-mile trail system of the Kodiak Island Borough. This is in keeping with the Kodiak Island Borough Master Trails Plan and will encourage safety of trail users, to encourage responsible trail use, and to more formally designate existing trails that may have obscure or conflicting names.
Safety and Education
Trail Academy: Alaska Trails: Grant funds of $18,200 will create a series of advanced trail trainings to trails professionals and volunteers around the state using the Alaska Trails advanced education curriculum modules. Alaska Trails will plan, organize, and conduct three separate trails trainings – one in Juneau, one in Fairbanks, and one in the Anchorage / Mat-Su Valley area. These trainings will each be several days in length and take place in the spring of 2015.
Trail Mapping and Public Education: Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation/Statewide: Grant funds of $58,196 will provide for a position to create and update trail maps within state parks for internal and public use. It provides funding to create Trail Guides for popular summer and winter, motorized and non-motorized trails and makes them available on the Alaska State Parks website. The guides will be two sided with a trail description on one side, and a map on the other. Trail descriptions will include trail mileage, elevation gain, points of interest, and special/safety considerations. One goal of this project is to create new park maps for all major park units (State Parks & State Recreation Areas) in a consistent style and format.
To obtain more information about the Recreational Trails Grant Program, please visit the program’s website at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/grants/trails.htm, or contact Darcy B. Harris, the Alaska State Trails Program Coordinator, at 907-269-8699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (2/24/2014)
Kodiak State Parks Citizens Advisory Board recruiting new members
(Kodiak, AK) – Applications are now being sought to fill current vacancies on the Kodiak State Parks Citizen Advisory Board.
The role of the board is to advise the Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation on matters effecting state parks in the Kodiak area. The board promotes the protection of the area state parks’ natural and cultural resources, and facilitates communication between the public and park managers. The board meets on a monthly basis from September through May. Members are expected to occasionally serve on board-appointed committees in addition to attending the monthly board meetings. Board members serve for three years and terms are staggered so that seats open each year.
To apply for a position on the nine-member board, please use the form provided at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/misc/advisboardapp.pdf. Applications are being accepted through Feb. 20. Applicants will be considered for terms beginning March and April. 1st.
The board is selected to represent the broad spectrum of public interests involved with or affected by the area parks. The nomination process is designed to ensure that no single viewpoint dominates the board. In addition, the bylaws call on each board member to represent the broad public interest rather than advocate on behalf of one specific group.
Alaska State Parks manages the following sites in the Kodiak area: Afognak Island State Park; Buskin River State Recreation Site; Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park; Pasagshak River State Recreation Site; Shuyak Island State Park and Woody Island State Recreation Site. The park advisory board helps park managers understand what the community priorities are in these parks. For more information, please contact the Kodiak District state park office at 907-486-6339. (2/5/2014)
Northern Region Ice Fishing Huts now available for rent
(Fairbanks, AK) - Alaska State Parks has ten ice fishing huts for rent this winter. Five are at Birch Lake near mile 305.5 Richardson Highway and five are located at Quartz Lake near mile 277.8 Richardson Highway.
These ice huts are constructed by the Department of Fish and Game and managed by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. They rent for $15 per day and can be reserved online at www.alaskastateparks.org. Those wishing to make reservations in person may do so at the DNR Public Information Center in Fairbanks at 3700 Airport Way.
The ice fishing huts measure eight feet by twelve feet. They have a wood burning stove and four fishing holes. All other equipment and supplies must be provided by the user. Suggested items to bring include; an ice auger and/or spud bar, stools or seats, a lantern or flashlight, a shovel, firewood (12 inch stove lengths), matches, fishing tackle and bait.
For more information on ice huts or public use cabins call the Public Information Center at 451-2705 or visit our web site at www.alaskastateparks.org. (12/19/2013)
2014 State Parks day use and boat launch decals available for purchase
(Anchorage, AK) – The 2014 Alaska State Parks annual day use and boat launch decals are now available for purchase online or in person at the Department of Natural Resources’ Public Information Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
To purchase the decals online, go to www.alaskastateparks.org and click on the sample decals to be taken to a secure site for online purchasing. The receipt from an online purchase may be used as a temporary pass for up to 10 days following the receipt date. Decals will be mailed the next business day after the purchase.
To purchase decals in person, go to the Anchorage Public Information Center in the Robert B. Atwood Building, located at 550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1260 or the Fairbanks Public Information Center, located at 3700 Airport Way. By mid-November, decals also will be available for purchase at Alaska State Parks offices around the state and three additional locations in Anchorage: the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, REI, and Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking.
Park decals are valid for a calendar year, from January 1 through December 31. In addition, the 2014 decals will be honored for the remainder of 2013, providing up to 14 months of recreational opportunities within the Alaska State Park system.
Day use decals are $40. Two day-use decals may be purchased for $60 when purchasing the decals for the same household with the same address. Boat launch decals are $75, but two decals may be purchased for $115 when purchased for the same household. Third and subsequent decals are $40 for day use and $75 for boat launch. A set of day use and boat launch decals may be purchased as a “combo set” for $100. All decals must be permanently affixed per the instructions on the decal and cannot be transferred to another person.
Alaska State Parks also issues a free camping pass to U.S. military veterans with a service-connected disability. The pass is issued for a two year period which began in 2013 and is valid through 2014. Camping passes are available at the Anchorage and Fairbanks Public Information Centers. To receive a pass, veterans must present a Veteran’s Universal Access card with “service connected disability” printed under their photograph, or a current year letter from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs stating the veteran’s disability rating and a photo ID.
For more information, contact the Anchorage Public Information Center at 269-8400 or the Fairbanks Public Information Center at 451-2706, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
New regulations implemented for Hatcher Pass Management Area
(Palmer, AK) -- New regulations regarding public use of the Hatcher Pass Management Area will go into effect on Jan. 20. These regulations implement the revisions to the Hatcher Pass Management Plan adopted in 2010, and they address safety and crowding issues in an increasingly popular winter recreation area. Both the revised plan and new regulations were adopted after extensive public input.
The new regulations revise the boundaries of areas open to snowmobiles, primarily in the Government Peak, Mile 16, Gold Mint, Reed Lakes/Little Susitna, Archangel, and Marmot Mountain areas. The new regulations also prevent the discharge of firearms within a quarter-mile of roads and require campers to camp in designated areas or at least quarter-mile from roads and trails.
The proposed new regulations are available at http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/hottopics/11-AAC96-014/index.cfm. Recreationists are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new snowmobile boundaries, which are illustrated in the map found at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/hatcherpass/hatcherpassboundaries.htm.
Where practical, signage will be placed along the revised boundaries. In addition, boundary maps will be posted at major trailheads at Hatcher Pass, and are available at the Mat-Su Area State Parks Headquarters, at 7278 East Bogard Road, in Wasilla, or at the DNR Public Information Center in the Atwood Building, located at 550 West 7th Ave, in Anchorage.
Current snowmobile opening information is posted on the Snow Reports link on the Alaska State Parks website at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks.
“We want to remind winter enthusiasts that poor snow conditions this winter have prevented the east side of Hatcher Pass from being opened to snowmobile use,” said Park Superintendent Wayne Biessel.
“The east side remains closed to snowmobile use until the snowpack is sufficient to protect the underlying vegetation. However, this could change rapidly with another storm since we are approaching the adequate snow depth after recent snow events,”Biessel said.
To ask about the new regulations, contact Biessel at email@example.com or call him at 745-8950. For information regarding the Government Peak area, contact the Mat-Su Borough at 745-9578.
Updated information about the new regulations will be posted at: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/hatcherpass/hatcherpassboundaries.htm
DNR develops boating safety checklist for boat rental vendors
(Anchorage, AK) – The vast majority of Alaska's boating fatalities are due to drowning that follows a sudden capsizing, swamping or fall overboard into cold water. Typically, the victim is not wearing a life jacket. To date, five of the 13 fatalities this year in Alaska involved rental boats and seven of the victims were non-residents.
In response, the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, housed within the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR), has developed a Watercraft Rental Orientation checklist that includes key safety messages addressing the highest risks to boaters in Alaska. The checklist is available to any boat rental companies, organizations or individuals interested in conducting orientations prior to renting or loaning a boat.
"We hope that this initiative will help reduce fatalities and enhance enjoyment on Alaska's waterways," said Ben Ellis, DPOR director.
From now on, the division is asking all vendors approved to rent boats in state park units to provide a watercraft safety orientation to all watercraft renters and passengers and document the renters' understanding of the orientation. Some vendors in state park units already provide such orientations on a voluntary basis, but in 2013, the orientations will be required as a permit stipulation. The orientation can be identical to or more stringent than the checklist developed by the Office of Boating Safety.
The Watercraft Rental Orientation is available on the Office of Boating Safety website at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/boating. For print copies, contact the Office of Boating Safety at 907-269-6042 or send an email to Education Specialist Kelli Toth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alaska Boating Safely Handbook available
Anchorage, Alaska - The new addition of the Alaska Boater's Handbook is available online through the Alaska Office of Boating Safety Office or at the Department of Natural Resources Public Information centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
In a state where capsizing and falls overboard into cold water continues to account for the majority of boating deaths, the handbook provides practical and relevant information for Alaska's boaters on legal requirements, safe practices and how to prepare for, avoid, and survive a cold water immersion event. In addition to the two Public Information centers, copies of the handbook are available online at www.alaskaboatingsafety.org or by contacting the Alaska Office of Boating Safety at (907) 269-8706.
The Alaska Office of Boating Safety reminds boaters that by practicing the following safety points they can help ensure everyone has a safe and memorable adventure on the water.
• Wearing a life jacket is KEY to surviving a cold water immersion event. ALWAYS wear a life jacket when in an
open boat or on an open deck
• Carrying both communication and signaling devices on your person
• Completing a thorough pre-departure check before each trip
• Taking boating courses
• Avoiding alcohol when boating
Firewood no longer supplied at roadside public use cabins in Chena River State Recreation Area
(Fairbanks, AK) – Alaska State Parks will no longer be stocking firewood at the three road accessible public use cabins in Chena River State Recreation Area. The three cabins are: the Chena River Cabin at mile 32.2 Chena Hot Springs Road (CHSR); the Hunt Memorial Cabin at mile 42.3 CHSR; and the North Fork Cabin at 47.8 mile CHSR. Out of the 13 state park public use cabins available for rent in the division’s Northern Area, these were the only three stocked with firewood.
Alaska State Parks has not been able to keep up with the demand for firewood, partially due to cabin users having outdoor bonfires. Bonfires put a big dent in the woodpile and leave the next cabin renter without wood. Furthermore, eliminating firewood at the three cabins along Chena Hot Springs Road will provide consistency throughout the Northern Area.
The Alaska State Parks’ Public Use Cabin information sheet provides additional details on the use of firewood at the cabins. For example, the information sheet recommends that renters bring firewood for at least the first night and advises renters that each cabin is supplied with a bow saw and axe for their use. Only dead and down or fire-killed trees may be cut in Chena River State Recreation Area. Alaska State Parks would appreciate customers help keeping the woodshed stocked for the next renter and advises cabin renters to bring firewood as the area around the cabins are pretty well picked over.
Alaska State Parks begins planning for lower Kasilof River boat retrieval project
(Kasilof, AK) - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR), has received project money to develop a public drift boat takeout on the lower Kasilof River to address increasing demand for such a facility on the popular drift-only fishing portion of the river. Currently, most boaters access the Kasilof at the Alaska State Parks public boat launch at mile 109.4 of the Sterling Highway; however, there is no publicly-owned exit point for boaters on the lower portion of the river.
In the first phase of this project, DPOR is distributing a short questionnaire to gain public input on where a retrieval site should be located, what criteria should be used to evaluate potential locations, and what type of facilities should be constructed. The questionnaire and additional project information is available at: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/kasilof/kasilofboatretrieval.htm