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Shifting Gears into Fall: West Susitna, Call for Support, Fall Events



Each of us at the SRC have found ourselves commenting, "Wow! It's September already?!" 


The summer seems to have flown by monitoring infrastructure funding, the continued Waterbody Setback Ordinance work, the West Susitna Industrial Corridor in the DOT draft STIP, and all of the summer events going on.


We have loved hearing about the things that our community has been up to in our watershed-- fishing at the end of main street, rafting, gathering berries, and now getting out into the field for into hunting season. 


As a small, grassroots nonprofit organization with a limited budget, we are reliant on individual donations to make the work we do in the Susitna Valley possible. Our three-person staff works on the issues in the Susitna Basin because we believe in our mission of supporting a free-flowing Susitna and the unique opportunities and experiences it provides. If you have found our emails, events, and outreach helpful, please consider donating or becoming a member of our organization.

 

As a fun giveaway, the first 10 individuals to donate more than $25 will receive a "Wild West Su" pin. 

We couldn't do the work that we do without you. 

We work for the Su, and we work for you.

 

****THANK YOU****

For Commenting on the DOT draft STIP plan

 


A great big “Thank you” to all of you who commented on the DOT draft STIP plan. 


On September 3rd, 2023, the Alaska DOT concluded the public comment period for the draft 2024-2027 STIP plan. The four year STIP plan is intended to drive the future of transportation within Alaska and outlines proposed transportation improvement projects.

At the close of the comment period on Sunday, September 3rd, an overwhelming majority of the 100s of individuals commenting directly on the inclusion of West Susitna in the DOT Draft STIP plan were opposed to the project for economic, environmental, and cultural reasons. Many cited concerns that the money earmarked for the project would be better spent in Mat-Su and other Alaskan communities where there are high-priority infrastructure needs. 


If the Alaska DOT is truly following an honest public process, then this unpopular and ill-conceived project should be pulled from the draft plan.

 

Opinion: Is Alaska making wise highway decisions?

by Tam Agosti-Gisler

 


The DOT draft STIP plan raised many questions and concerns as to what Alaskan priorities should be regarding our transportation and highways. Many of us regularly drive roads in disrepair, and many voiced opposition to Alaskan money being spent on transportation projects that do not actually benefit local communities.


An Opinion piece in ADN highlights many concerns about Alaskan road priorities. "My head swirls with the various highway projects in Alaska and questionable decisions being made at the state level. Millions of dollars were spent for the Seward-Glenn Highway connection with a design that no longer serves our needs. Millions have been spent on the Cooper Landing bypass with costs now so escalated that this project, discussed since I was a teenager in the 1970s, is stalled.


Millions of infrastructure dollars are being directed to rebuild still-functioning Richardson and Steese Highway bridges that will primarily serve the needs of private gold ore mining companies while other highway bridges languish. The $450 million price tag for the proposed West Susitna Access Road is being challenged as a government subsidy to private foreign industry."


Read the piece here, and ask where you would rather our state dollars be spent and what our state priorities should be. 

(Photo Credit: Matt Tunseth/ADN Archive)

 

Port MacKenzie Rail to Road Conversion

Borough Special Meeting: 9/12/23 @ 4PM

 

On July 18th, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved a resolution allowing the Borough Manager, Mike Brown, to look for funds to convert 18 miles of the the partially completed rail spur to a paved, likely heavy haul industrial, road. This would create a paved road from Houston to a connection with the existing Port MacKenzie road built south from Wasilla.


In an article by Tim Bradner in the Frontiersman, "Still, the decision is likely to bring some criticism. For example, while the plan does make use of a substantial investment by the state it may be difficult to identify the need for additional access to Port MacKenzie to justify the added expenditure." 


While the there is no obvious need for this additional investment in a project that has already cost the State of Alaska $184 million to connect to Port Mackenzie, the connection to the West Susitna Industrial Corridor is striking. Conversion of this region to a road would provide additional means of connecting the heavy-haul road of West Susitna Industrial Corridor, which is slated to begin at Port Mackenzie, to the rest of the borough.


As we are learning from communities to our north, like our friends in Fairbanks, who are about to be dealing with heavy haul mining vehicles traveling through their community every few minutes, starting to convert any public roads in the Mat-Su to heavy haul roads should give us pause. Heavy haul vehicles and regular community traffic are a dangerous combination.  


While the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved the opportunity for the Borough Manager to look for funds for this project, many Assembly members wanted more information. Because of this, the Assembly will hold a special meeting on September 12, 2023 at 4PM with the potential for members of the Governor's office, the Borough, and the Railroad to attend.


There will be opportunities for public participation and the comment. 

Want more Background? See the The Agenda , the original Borough 

Memorandum here and Borough Resolution here.

(photo credit, The Frontiersman)

 

The 7th Annual Wild Su Feast!

When: October 15th, 5pm-8pm

Where: Denali Brewing Company, 37083 Talkeetna Spur Rd. (Mile 2)


This community event celebrates the local and wild foods of the Susitna Watershed and the communities that rely on and enjoy them.


After the hard work of growing, harvesting and gathering foods, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing the bounty with our neighbors.


How it Works:


Option One: Bring a dish that will serve at least six (6) people and attend FREE!

Ingredients must include something that Walked, Swam, Flew or Grew in the Susitna Watershed that you harvested, gathered and prepared.


Here are some examples:

Walked: Moose sausages

Swam: Grilled salmon with a lingonberry sauce.

Flew: Ptarmigan appetizers

Grew: Morel cream sauce

Dessert: Lingonberry shortbread


We will be creating a new Wild Su Feast cookbook out of the dishes! 

Please bring the recipe or the ingredients list for your entry.

We can not accept any home-made alcoholic drinks this year


Option Two: Pay admission in advance and enjoy the potluck!

Early Bird Adult: $25.00

Early Bird Adult, Current SRC Member: $15.00

(Contact us at melissa@susitnarivercoalition.org to become a member today!)

Early Bird Youth (10 and under): $5.00


Option Three:

Day of Adult: $30.00

Day of Adult, Current SRC Member: $20.00

(Contact us at melissa@susitnarivercoalition.org to become a member today!)

Day of Youth (10 and under): $10.00

Please note: All tickets are non-refundable


More Fun:

All attendees will be entered into a raffle to win various door prizes donated by our generous local businesses.

For More information, see our EventBrite Page and Facebook Event Page

 

Wild Su Feast Sponsorships

 

We rely on our local watershed businesses to run the event! Want to support the Susitna River Coalition's Wild Su Feast? We would appreciate any gift, small or big, financial or in-kind door prizes. Past donations from businesses include: gift cards to your business/store, crafts, and books.


Please contact melissa@susitnarivercoalition.orgfor more information and our sponsorship form.

 

Susitna Watershed Energy Updates

 



The largest solar farm in Alaska was celebrated by a ground-breaking ceremony on August 29, 2023. The renewable energy project is a collaboration between Renewable IPP, an independent Alaskan power production company, our electric utility co-op Matanuska Electric Association (MEA), and the investor Clean Capital. It will power approximately 1,400 homes with 8.5 megawatts and over 14,000 solar panels. The solar panels are bifacial, meaning both sides of the panels can capture solar energy from the reflection off of the snow - making them more efficient during our long winter months. The project hired all local employees to build the farm, and it will not raise the energy rate of MEA members. Tony Izzy, the CEO of MEA said “the cost to purchase the power is lower than anything they generate themselves and helps diversify (our) fuel supply portfolio, making (us) less reliant on natural gas.” 


This comes at a critical time as utilities are planning to import LNG (liquified natural gas) from Canada or Mexico to fill the natural gas supply gap in Cook Inlet which is expected to start as soon as July 2027. According to Nat Hertz, an Anchorage journalist, by mixing in responsible renewable power such as wind and solar and incentivizing energy conservation, we could delay importing LNG by a few years.


If you want to be involved in the Railbelt energy issues and help make important decisions about where our energy comes from and how our energy dollars are spent, consider joining the MEA board of directors. There will be two board seats available in 2024 - one in the Susitna East District (Wasilla), and the other in the Susitna West District (from Port Mackenzie all the way up to Denali State Park which includes Knik, Big Lake, Houston, Willow, Trapper Creek, Talkeetna, and Petersville). We need responsible utility board members who will speak up against damaging projects like the Susitna-Watana Dam, and be an advocate for the MEA member-owners.

(Photo Credit: Loren Holmes/ADN)

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