I submitted the following comments on the Draft version of the Chugach State Park Management Plan on behalf of the MCA Board. There is still time left for you to comment individually by the 10/31/11 deadline. Instructions are on the DNR website at: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/manageplanchug.htm. Additionally, I would encourage you to use the easy form on the Access Fund's website to oppose the fixed anchor ban in CSP. Click on this link to go to their webpage: Chugach State Park Proposes Anchor Ban
Thank you, Tim Silvers, MCA President
MCA Board's submitted comments follow:
Dear Monica Alvarez,
The Mountaineering Club of Alaska board of Officers and Directors have reviewed the Chugach State Park Draft Management Plan and have prepared comments on two areas:
1) On Page 29, Rock and Ice climbing are listed as some of the major recreational activities occurring in the park. Permanent anchors greatly increase the safety of rock and ice climbing as the rock quality and geologic features do not lend themselves well to creating safe temporary anchors in most of the climbing areas in the park. Please remove the wording on page 51: “except the use of any permanent rock anchors is prohibited.”
The rocky bluffs in the park are typically only used by rock or ice climbers, and the climbing community does a good job policing itself to make sure that unnecessary and/or unsightly anchors are not created. Additionally, many established rock climbing routes were put up many years ago and the permanent anchors are no longer safe and need replaced. The current language of the plan would prohibit the safe replacement of existing anchors as well. Rock anchors are typically small and not easily visible unless you are looking for them, so adding or replacing them should have minimal environmental impact. It is also not likely that many new climbing areas would be developed in the park, as most areas with climbing potential already have established routes.
2) We object to the following sentence in the section titled “Eklutna/Whiteout Traverse Mountaineering Huts” in Chapter 6 of the Management Plan:
“They must remain open to all glacier travelers on the traverse and must be shared by groups.”
It cannot be the intent of DNR that the Mountaineering Club should expend substantial funds to maintain these huts with no means of recovering its expenses. As written, the language in this section could lead one to conclude that there is no charge for the use of these huts.
In addition to the cost of upkeep of the huts, the club helps to protect the Eklutna watershed by providing barrels for human waste and pays for their disposal. The need for helicopter time to access the huts for some of the maintenance is a significant contributor to the total cost. In the last five years the club has spent $25,540 on the seven huts it maintains, three of which are on the Eklutna Traverse. Besides cash outlays, club members volunteer substantial hours of personal time.
All the other facilities within and near the park have fees associated with them. The Eklutna Lake cabin, run by DNR, is available for $40 - $50 a night. Eagle River Nature Center makes its yurts available at $55 a night to members and charges an additional $10 a night to non-members. The USFS cabin in Crow Pass has a fee of $35 per night. The Alaska Department of Resources and US Forest Service explicitly state that use of their cabins without payment of fees is illegal and may be subject to substantial penalties. The USFS lists the fine as "up to $5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment".
At present the funds to maintain the huts are raised by club dues and fees from other activities that the club sponsors. The club does not have a reservation and billing system that would allow charging on a per-use basis. We would like this paragraph of the management plan to be reworded to state:
"The huts are open to all glacier travelers upon payment of the fees established by the Mountaineering Club. Each individual using the huts is required to be a current member of the club or pay the equivalent fee. Membership is open to everyone and is currently only $15 a year. The huts must be shared by groups. First priority will be given to official club trips, which are posted on the club’s website in advance. Otherwise they are available on a first-come first-serve basis until they are full. Use of the huts without payment of fees is illegal and subject to penalties established by DNR."
There is already widespread use of the huts by non-club members who do not contribute to the maintenance of these facilities. In order for the club to continue to maintain the huts in good condition and to protect the environment, an adequate source of funding must be made available. By adopting a policy clearly stating that the huts are not available free of charge, DNR will help to realize this objective.
Thank you for considering our comments.