Commission flags troublesome trail issues

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2000

On March 2, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Trails Commission completed a report for the borough administration, the borough planning commission and the borough assembly. Here are some of the priority recommendations from the report:

Clam Gulch Trail

The commission wants to move the trailhead for the popular snowmachine route across the Sterling Highway so riders would not need to cross the road. The land where the trail begins belongs to the University of Alaska. The commission recommends the borough discuss this issue with the university to solve easement and trailhead problems.

Iditarod National Historic Trail

The trail is the only federally-designated National Historic Trail in the state and one of only 16 in the nation designated a Millennium Trail in 1999.

Parts of the original Gold Rush trail from Seward to the Interior now are under the Seward Highway or the Alaska Railroad tracks. An alternative public route is being developed, and part of the trail already has been rebuilt.

An organization called the Seward Iditarod Trail Blazers wants to complete the trail from Seward to Girdwood by 2008, with management support from the Chugach National Forest.

The trails commission recommends the borough promote the fact the famous trail begins at Seward and seek support from Alaska's Congressional delegation to complete the trail's restoration.

Caribou Hills

"Of all the regions in the borough, the Caribou Hills region is most in need of a comprehensive transportation plan," according to the report.

It cites growing use, lack of legal easements, off-road vehicle damage to salmon streams and a "complex checkerboard of land ownership."

The trails commission recommends the borough pursue funding for a transportation plan for the area.

"This is a major undertaking that will require significant funding," it said.

Access requirements

"To avoid future problems associated with access to private land across inadequate or inappropriate routes, the trails commission recommends that the borough subdivision regulations be changed to require legal, constructible, public access to subdivisions, not only within the subdivision," the report states.

Landowner protection

The commission recommends the borough lobby for improvements to the Alaska's Recreational Use Statute, calling it one of the nation's weakest in protecting private landowners from liability for uninvited and uncompensated recreational uses on their property.

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