Home > Dispatches >Daily Dispatches 2022 > Daily Dispatch #298

October 30, 2022 Comment on Moose Range Plan

Don Perrin
State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources 550 W. 7th Ave, Suite 1360
Anchorage, AK 99501-3557

Dear Mr. Perrin:

I’m writing this letter in support of your making the west side of the Matanuska Moose Range non-motorized, year around. I would not be making the request for a non-motorized designation if vehicular users took responsibility for their actions. The problem is, they refuse to do so.

 My perspective is that of long-time outdoor recreationist. My husband Pete and I moved to our off-the grid homestead 21 years ago. We chose our current location because we presumed

Trashed trail

that having a trail system in our backyard would allow us to continue to hike, bicycle, cross-country ski and horseback ride.

I have since been out on the Matanuska Moose Range trails on a daily basis. I can tell you where the spruce hens nest, the porcupines hang out, and the moose meander. I forage some, bringing home fiddlehead ferns in the spring, and high bush cranberries in the fall. I observe the change of the seasons, and take great joy in watching the fireweed at Grizzly Camp come into bloom.

Over the years I’ve become increasingly more frustrated as the Matanuska Moose Range trail system has become increasingly more trashed by vehicular traffic. The trails were originally single-track – they’re now rutted, muddy, quagmires.

You name it, I’ve seen it out there; everything from dirt bikes to Chevy pick-ups. The wanton disregard for other recreational users’ enjoyment continues to make itself apparent in their attitude towards silent sports enthusiasts. For example, I’ve asked the motorists at the Murphy Road Trailhead to wait until the ground firms up before heading out, and been told that “this is state land and I can do what I want,” “I’m not the one causing the damage,” and “These are ATV trails.” Their responses have also been prefaced by the words “stupid bitch.”

I can no longer ride horseback for any distance because in short order, I encounter knee-deep, slippery ruts. And in fact, there are places where the ruts are so deep that the horses are unable to clamber up the banks. Cross-country skiing and hiking have their own set of challenges. The ATVers make braids after the trails become non-navigable. These braids then become equally as impassable.

The portion of the Matanuska Moose Range known as the Moose Meadows was once a pristine trail use area. Now riders take their lives, and the lives of their horses in their hands when riding in this neck of the woods. I was, a few years back, with a friend whose horse went down in a mud pit, one created by vehicular over-use. The mare was soon up to her nose in muck. We had lead ropes with us, and fortunately, were able to pull her out. Consequently, we no longer had access to the Rough Grouse Trail.

Hunters in Game Management Area 14-A do not seem to realize that the residential areas border the Matanuska Moose Range, making for a potentially dangerous situation. Local children play alongside the trails off Murphy Road – it is not hard to imagine that someday, a drunken hunter’s bullet might take one out.

I’m also requesting that the non-motorized designation be year around, this including during snowmobile season. Their machines are loud, fast, and noisy. And they refuse to slow down. Horses don’t take kindly to this. And it’s near impossible to step aside if you are on a horse because the trailside snow is extremely deep.

Of course, alternatives for vehicular users need to be put in place; otherwise they will ignore DNR dictates. Here’s what I suggest: the western edge of the Matanuska Moose Range is a small portion of the 130,000 acre Matanuska Moose Range – smaller, even, than the Jonesville Public Use Area. Motorized vehicle users will still have a huge large area in which to recreate, and the portion of the area open to motorized recreation will be on ground that is better drained and more appropriate to motorized travel. To facilitate motorized recreation, DNR, along with the Mat-Su Borough, should put in a parking lot at the base of Usibelli Pioneer road on the Glenn Highway. This will provide easy access to much of the Moose range.

I’ve waited a long time for the opportunity to voice my concerns, and am glad that you are now seriously considering doing something about what we at this end of the world agree is a major problem. The letters you are getting in support of our trail-related interests are indicative of this.

Thank you for allowing me to give voice to my concerns,

Alys Culhane

Next: 299. 10/31/22: Halloween

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