Howard Delo

We’re going to touch on a few different topics today. First, ADF&G has put out a press release announcing the opening of a new and upgraded boat launch for Rabbit Slough in the Palmer Hay Flats Refuge. I think I mentioned this upgrade in an earlier column where an anticipated finish date was listed as mid-May. They made it!

Quoting from the release, “Waterfowlers, anglers, and other boaters will now find it more convenient and safer to launch at Rabbit Slough with the opening of a newly constructed boat ramp. The new cement boat ramp is the final major improvement being made by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) at this public access site while minimizing impacts to fish and wildlife habitats.”

The Mt. McKinley Mountainmen are holding their annual Memorial Day Rendezvous in the Point MacKenzie area starting today and running through Sunday, May 24th. This is one of the major social events the club sponsors every year and involves period dress, camping in original-style canvas tents, cooking over open fires, shooting matches with muzzleloading firearms, knife and tomahawk throwing matches, and other assorted activities folks back in the 1800’s tended to do. Visitors are welcome.

The event is scheduled to be held on the Todd Hecker Farm, Point MacKenzie, 18455 S. Guernsey Road, Wasilla AK 99654. Watch for signs beginning at Knik Goose Bay Road and Point MacKenzie Road intersection all the way to the site!

Specific directions on how to get there are: South out of Wasilla on Knik Goose Bay (KGB) Road 17 miles to Point MacKenzie Road. Turn right on Point McKenzie. Go 7.2 miles to the “T” intersection. Turn Left toward the Port on West Point McKenzie Road for 3.3 miles to Holstein Road. Turn right on gravel and go 1.6 miles to Guernsey Road. Turn Left on Guernsey. One mile to entrance to farm on right. Should be third driveway on right. Driveways are close together with first to wrong farm, second to lane to lake, and third to barns of Todd’s Farm (rendezvous site). Follow driveway through the barns, lake with sign “David’s Haven,” through the trees (approx. 100 yds) to open field and rendezvous campgrounds.

On May 7th, the Matanuska Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission (MSBFWC) held a teleconferenced meeting to discuss SB 204 and a proposed Phase II Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Borough, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), and Nova Minerals for the future development and construction of a West Susitna access road. This meeting was open to the public to listen in and provide both written and oral comments. This meeting had one of the highest numbers of public participants I can remember for any MSBFWC meeting.

The short version is that virtually nobody supported either the proposed legislation or the MOU as currently written. The appearance that both SB 204 and the MOU are closely related was apparent to everyone. In a letter dated March 4, 2020, and addressed to our Valley state legislative delegation, the Borough Manager, John Moosey, and the Borough Mayor, Vern Halter, outlined many significant problems with SB 204.

Quoting from the letter: “Our concern is that the state DNR will be allowed to sell land, without meeting Borough land management, platting, road construction and waterway requirements, and will not address issues created when the land is sold. The correction of these issues would then fall on the Borough, causing a tremendous amount of additional labor and very expensive operational costs to the Borough in order to correct these issues.”

One troubling section of SB 204 to many Commission members would eliminate the Recreational Rivers Act and all its provisions. This would have major implications in the construction of the proposed West Susitna access road, where 20 conventional bridges, 4 long span bridges, and 440 culverts involving lots of stream crossings would have potentially major impacts on fish habitat.

Regarding the access road Phase II MOU, one concern was the lack of transparency in the access road MOU process. Many folks stated they had never been directly contacted about the possibility of this road being constructed. Another concern was that the Phase I MOU stated the road would have public access. The proposed Phase II MOU refers to the road as a private, industrial access road.

The MSBFWC can’t support this MOU in its current form without some more specific and detailed language that would add public confidence in the MOU, especially in the areas of fish habitat and public process.

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