Anchorage hikers urge city to keep Chugach trail entrances public

Posted: Friday, August 19, 2005

ANCHORAGE (AP) — One of Cory Hinds’ favorite places to hike and climb, Ram Valley in Eagle River, was sealed off by development a couple of years ago.

‘‘That was just a bummer to think a place you really liked to go, you could no longer go,’’ said Hinds, the president of a group called the Chugach Park Access Coalition.

Trail entrances into Chugach State Park along Anchorage’s mountain borders need more protection from private landowners who block access, according to a group of hikers and skiers urging the city government to protect the park entry points.

Several popular hikes from Eagle River to South Anchorage have been closed by housing developments, according David Evans, one of about 20 people who asked the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission to identify park access points in the city’s parks plan, which is under revision.

The commission agreed with the trails group at Monday’s meeting and will forward that recommendation to the Anchorage Assembly.

Identifying entrances to Chugach State Park in an official city planning document would give the city more power to make a developer preserve trail heads and provide parking.

In the meantime, the city has been dealing with one situation at a time, including negotiations over access to Mount Baldy in Eagle River and McHugh Peak, which had been threatened by the Grandview subdivision on the Hillside.

Officials say the city and state need to work together to preserve as much access as possible.

Parks Director Jeff Dillon said planners should use the inventory as a reference, and the access points listed should be considered as potential sites for protection, but not mandatory ones.

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