Rec Rivers, Important Dates & Upcoming Events
Recreation Rivers Revision Scoping: Important Dates
The Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan has recently been opened up for public scoping in preparation for potential revision.
As part of the scoping period, a series of in-person and virtual scoping workshops will be held throughout the summer. These dates and information can be found on the DNR website or on our Facebook Page.
Public Scoping Workshops, In-person
Public Scoping Workshops, Virtual
Comments can also be sent through this online form.
What is the 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.
Late in 2021, the Department of Natural Resources appointed a new Advisory Board in anticipation of revising the management plan. Recently, in May of 2022, the revision scoping period opened up.
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 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.
Revising the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan has the potential to 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: 404 Wetland Permitting
This past month, AIDEA started the process for the 404 permit for the West Su Industrial Access Corridor, a project that is both strongly opposed by the public and makes no economic or environmental sense. Additionally, due to your strong requests, the State has recently hired a 3rd party consultant, McKinley Research (formally McDowell), to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of this project. As with most aspects of this project, it is unclear why AIDEA would start their permitting before the true costs and benefits of this project are known and against overwhelming opposition from the public.
The Permitting Process: The start of the NEPA 404 process is the start of a long series of events and will take some time for the Agency to process. We expect the first public comment period to start within a few months, but the timeline can vary greatly. It's important to stay engaged and keep an eye out for these opportunities - public comments DO make a big difference in the Federal permitting process. We need you to keep engaging!
This is the Beginning! While this is disappointing, this in NO WAY means the project is a go. We were expecting this next step to happen and all of us have many opportunities in the next year to engage and speak up for our jobs, hunting and fishing resources, recreational lands, and the way of life that the watershed can provide to both newcomers and those who have called this place home for time immemorial.
We're Making Gains! While it may not seem like it at this moment, we are making gains! Because of all of you and your engagement, NO additional money was earmarked for this project during the 2021/2022 Legislative session, this is HUGE and shows that we all are being heard.
MEA Board Seat Opening: Susitna East District
Matanuska Electric Association has a new Board seat open for the Susitna East District!
Are you passionate about responsible renewable energy and want to help your community handle issues such as rising electricity bills and reoccurring power outages?
If you live in the Wasilla area between Church Rd and Seward-Meridian Pkwy and you are an MEA member (you pay MEA bills), you have the opportunity to apply for the vacant seat on the member-led electric co-op Board of Directors.
As a member of the board of directors you have the capacity to represent co-op members and work with the MEA management to improve the railbelt energy system and make sure harmful projects like the Watana Susitna Dam is never built.
More exciting energy news for the Mat-Su! The Alaska Center is now offering The Solarize Program for Mat-Su communities. This Program provides an opportunity to purchase solar panels as a group resulting in discounts on solar panels and installation as well as support navigating the installation and financial processes. If you and your neighbors would like to start a Solarize campaign and receive bids from various installers, you can find out more info and get a free site assessment online.