Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Working on Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan

Public comment is being taken by Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve officials on six draft alternatives aimed at managing recreational ORV traffic in the park's Nabesna Road area. Photo by George Herben via National Parks Conservation Association.

From now through January 10 the folks at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve will be open to your thoughts on six alternatives aimed at managing recreational off-road vehicle use in the Nabesna Road area.

The draft alternatives were crafted in part to settle a lawsuit that attacked how the National Park Service was managing ORV use in the park.

The park is developing an environmental impact statement considering the effects of ORVs on nine trails in the Nabesna District. Comments on the draft alternatives will be used to refine the alternatives, which will be fully analyzed in a draft environmental impact statement that is scheduled to be released for public comment in November 2009.

“The intent of the plan is to provide continued opportunities for appropriate and reasonable access to wilderness and backcountry recreation including sport hunting in the preserve, while accommodating subsistence uses, access to inholdings, and protecting fish and wildlife habitat and other park values,” said Park Superintendent Meg Jensen.

The alternatives addresses ORV use on the Caribou Creek, Trail Creek, Soda Lake, Lost Creek, Reeve Field, Boomerang, Suslota, Tanada and Copper Lake trails.

Comments are being sought on draft proposals that include opening recreational ORV use on all nine trails, closing use on those trails, three alternatives which provide for varying levels of trail improvements for ORVs, and the implementation of a trail user fee.

You can find copies of the draft alternatives on line at this site. You also can leave your comments at that site.

Or, if you'd prefer a hard copy, copies of the 14-page alternatives document can be requested by phone at 907-822-7276. Hard copies of the document are also available at park headquarters in Copper Center, the Glennallen Public Library and the Slana Post Office.

Comments

Nabesna Road is a major Native inholding area & community on the north side of Wrangell-St Elias. WRST has become the poster-child & test-case for both subsistence issues and ORVs (4 wheelers, mainly, as snowmobiles are less controversial). WRST has well over a million acres of inholdings - more than most of our 'big' Parks, just as inholdings!

Management largely 'stiffed' subsistence for a long time, but they about-faced in recent years, and opened up the action to the extent that even tourists can now rent ATVs and run around by themselves ... albeit on designated trails & routes.

It's always a hairball trying to know what's really going on with lawsuits like this, but the fact it's Nabesna - which is primarily about Native interests, lands & activities - is suggestive. Recent-years background supports a relatively permissive resolution.