Report reviews off-road vehicle use in Denali Park

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

FAIRBANKS (AP) — A new report could mean that the National Park Service will open parts of Denali National Park and Preserve around the community of Cantwell to off-road vehicles for federally recognized subsistence users.

The report documents the history of off-road vehicle use in the area. The Park Service intends to use the report to review a policy banning four-wheelers and other all-terrain vehicles from an area of parkland of about 50 square miles around Cantwell, said park spokeswoman Kris Fister.

The areas in question were part of 4 million acres added to the park with the 1980 adoption of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Title 8 of ANILCA ensures local residents engaged in subsistence uses have reasonable access to resources on public lands.

The law also permits use of snowmachines, motorboats and other means of surface transportation traditionally em-ployed by local residents, subject to reasonable regulation.

Cantwell residents use the area to harvest moose, caribou and other game for subsistence use. Residents must live within three miles of the Cantwell post office to meet federal subsistence requirements. The use of four-wheelers isn't specifically mentioned in the regulation, but Cantwell residents say they have made use of a succession of four-wheel-drive technology as it came on the market. ATVs are just the latest technology.

Cantwell residents and the Denali Subsistence Resource Commission requested the Park Service review the 1986 decision. The new report appears to support the claims of residents.

Paul Anderson, superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve, said the new information hopefully will lead to a permanent solution of the issue.

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