Wilderness Society WILDALERT: Critical Areas of Kenai Peninsula Would be Open to Snowmobiles Under Proposal

June 7th, 2006 1:10 pm by Kelly Garbato

The following is an excerpt from the latest Wilderness Society action alert.

To take action, click here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: The Wilderness Society – action [at] tws [dot] org
Date: Jun 6, 2006 2:44 PM
Subject: WILDALERT: Critical Areas of Kenai Peninsula Would be Open to Snowmobiles Under Proposal


* WILDALERT — Tuesday, June 6, 2006
* Brought to you by The Wilderness Society


Demand balanced management for the Kenai!

At 5.5 million acres, the Chugach National Forest in southcentral Alaska is the nation’s second largest. One of its best-known wonders is the Kenai Peninsula, rich in natural beauty, fish and wildlife. The U.S. Forest is developing a winter use plan for the area that could surrender 85 percent of it to snowmobile use. We need your help to prevent that.

The Forest Service is taking public comments through Monday, June 12, on a draft winter use plan for the Kenai. Its favored approach would exchange natural quiet and wildlife protection for the roar of snowmobiles. Please ask the agency to designate the Kenai’s most sensitive areas off-limits to motorized use.

Click here to send that message immediately:



The Chugach National Forest is part of the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest. It contains some of the richest salmon spawning streams in America, tidewater glaciers, towering peaks. The Kenai Peninsula is a fabled part of it.

The Kenai is a remarkable microcosm of Alaska, boasting rainforest, glaciers, alpine tundra, coastal estuaries, bays, inlets and coves. Its wildlife is a virtual catalog of Alaskan fauna: both black and brown bears, moose, caribou, mountain goats, Dall sheep, wolves, lynx, wolverine and five species of salmon. The Kenai and Russian Rivers support the biggest recreational fishery in Alaska.

Already, the Kenai’s precious wilderness resources are under threat from helicopter skiing, intensive snowmobiling and other motorized uses. These uses damage habitats, disrupt wildlife and utterly destroy wilderness character.


Today, over 70 percent of the Kenai planning area is open to snowmobile use. Through its Kenai Winter Access Plan, the agency is mapping out how it will manage or regulate winter use. The operative word here is “access.” Among three alternatives the agency has offered the public for comment, the one it prefers would throw open most of the area to snow machine use and only a scant 15 percent of the area would be permanently closed to snow machine use. The proposed alternative is disappointing, short-sighted and imbalanced.

A much better choice is Alternative 1. It comes closest to balancing motorized recreation with wildlife protection and natural values. It is precisely in winter that wildlife most need sanctuary from disruptive motorized intrusions, for it is in winter that wildlife species need to conserve as much energy as possible in order to survive and eventually produce young. With a few improvements, Alternative 1 could significantly reduce impacts to wildlife and wilderness character and provide much more balanced recreational opportunities.

Only by designating large areas of the Kenai as off-limits to non- motorized use can the Forest Service preserve natural quiet and wilderness quality recreational opportunities, as well as the extraordinary wildlife habitats of this exceptional place. It will also be critical for the agency to permanently close to both helicopter skiing and snow machine use the spectacular and still-pristine Snow River unit and the southern half of the Ptarmigan/Grant unit. None of that will happen unless we weigh in on the winter access plan.



The Kenai’s magnificence belongs to all Americans and we have now a valuable opportunity to help shape its future. Click here and urge the Forest Service to choose balance and protection over rampant motorized use on the Kenai.


If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for the The Wilderness Society Center here.

[end excerpt]

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