Recreation Rivers, West Susitna Access, Public Comments
Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan
The Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan, implemented in 1991, designated six Susitna Basin rivers as Recreation Rivers. This designation provides important protections and management directives to maintain the quality and recreation values of these high-use waterways. The first plan was developed in 1991 and has not been revised since. Recently, the Department of Natural Resources appointed a new Advisory Board in anticipation of revising the management plan. The revision of the Recreation Rivers Management Plan will dictate the fate of these incredible rivers and shape the future of the greater Susitna Watershed. The newly constructed Advisory Board has met twice, once in December 2021 and again in January 2022. The next three meeting have been scheduled, and public comment is welcome at each. February 16, 2022 10AM-12PM March 16, 2022 from 10AM-12PM April 20, 2022 from 10AM-12PM The Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan is still as valuable today as it was during its initial formation due to the potential for large scale development projects, like the West Susitna Access Road. The proposed West Susitna Industrial Access Road will bisect the heart of the Susitna watershed and cut through the Recreation Rivers route to the Yentna mining district in the Alaska Range. The road will provide access to mining claims staked by Australian junior mining companies. The road poses an existential threat to fish and wildlife populations, fishing and hunting opportunities, and the Recreation values that the Recreation Rivers were designated to protect. The access road, promoted by the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority (AIDEA), received $8.5 million of appropriated funds from the State Legislature last year to advance pre-development work on the West Susitna Access Road in preparation to file for federal permits. Deconstructing the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan would decrease the level of fish habitat mitigation and necessary permitting required for development projects around these waterways resulting in deleterious effects on fish and wildlife habitat.
West Susitna Access Road:
On December 21, 2021, despite robust public testimony against, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly ignored their constituents voices and voted to approve Phase III of the West Susitna Access Road. While the testimony was well thought out, and the Assembly members had received a lot of contact from constituents in the weeks leading up to the vote, the Assembly green-lighted AIDEA continuing onto Phase III. Because of this vote, the Borough Assembly authorized AIDEA to continue down this route - with no requirements for public outreach, or independent cost-benefit analysis, on the timeline AIDEA proposed.
After Phase III of the West Susitna Access Road was approved by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly on December 21, 2021, the Mat-Su Borough agreed to use $50,000 of already allocated Borough money to conduct public outreach during the first quarter of 2022. This outreach includes the collection of public comments and two public meetings. The end result of this Borough public involvement project will be a summary of comments representing current public sentiment about the proposed West Susitna Access Road. A summary of the comments to the Borough Assembly and AIDEA will be made before submitting it to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for consideration during the upcoming Clean Water Act permitting process.
Outreach from the Borough is already coming up short. Outreach materials incorrectly say the road would be public.
Just a reminder: The road, at this point, if there ends up being public access at all, would be public to the Susitna River. AIDEA has gone back and forth on this to garner public support, but has based their budget and timeline on a non-DOT private gravel road.
Borough Outreach information is as follows:
The Borough will be holding two virtual open house events. We strongly encourage you to call in and voice your opposition to this road! Turnout and volume of voices will make a different in the final outcome.
February 23, 2022 from 4-7 PM
March 23, 2022 from 4-7 PM
Zoom Link for Attendance: https://bit.ly/susitna_access
Phone Number for Attendance: 253-215-8782, Meeting ID: 860 7777 0537, Passcode: 150663
Comment Deadline: March 31, 2022
Text Message Survey: text "access" to 866-298-0013
Online Survey: https://forms.gle/bxjqzNgDUF3jNEeh8 - We appreciate your input!
Email the Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call the Team: 907-346-0506
Winter Speaker Series
What & Why?
Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan
The Little Susitna, the Deshka, the Talkeetna River, Lake Creek, Talachulitna and Alexander Creek: the Susitna Basin's six Recreation Rivers have long been recognized for their unique natural features, drawing locals and visitors alike. In 1988, the Alaska State Legislature signed into law the Recreation Rivers Act and in 1991 the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan was implemented.
But what exactly is this plan, why was it implemented, and why is it still important to these rivers today?
Join the Susitna River Coalition on February 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM as we welcome Bruce Talbot to discuss the Recreation Rivers Management Plan and the newly constructed Recreation Rivers Advisory Committee.
Bruce Talbot received his BS from University of Vermont in Wildlife Management and MS from Cornell University in Education specializing in Natural Resource Planning any Policy. He has worked for federal and state land management agencies throughout his career including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and National Park Service. He worked for many seasons in different national parks around the country. He first came to Alaska in 1980 as a seasonal naturalist and backcountry ranger at Denali. In 1984 he took a full-time job with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and retired in 2009 as a senior land use planner.
While with DNR, Bruce was project manager for a number of planning projects including the Susitna Basin Recreation Management Plan, Denali State Park Plan, Wood-Tichchik State Park Management Plan, Denali Borough Management Plan for state lands and Chena River State Park Management Plan. He also helped with the Susitna Area Plan when he first began work at DNR. Bruce also supervised DNR staff reviewing federal plans for Conservation System Units (including Denali) and contributed to both the joint DNR/NPS visitor facility and access studies on both the north and south sides of Denali National Park. He enjoys cross country skiing hiking, and biking throughout Alaska.
We Work for the Watershed
It has been great to see a lot of new sign ups to our email lists and interest in the future of the Susitna drainage. We are a small, grassroots organization based in Talkeetna, Alaska with a broad constituency across the Susitna Watershed. First formed in response to the Susitna-Watana Hydro Dam Project, we now focus on issues and projects that have the potential to alter the face of the Susitna Watershed. The West Susitna Access Road is one of those projects that would inextricably alter the future of the western Susitna drainage, forever changing the face of the area. Thanks for being involved in making your voice heard against this unwanted and unnecessary region-altering mega-project in our valley and following us as we work to protect healthy fish and wildlife habitat, robust recreation opportunities, and the unique lifestyles that our free-flowing watershed supports.
or give us a call 907-743-5400.
We work for the Watershed.