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October 25, 2012: A Tough Call

I’ve tried several times to write this dispatch, but each time I’ve fallen short. In part this because my thoughts on the following matter are pretty jumbled. But I’m going to do it because I have to say what needs to be said. And so, the subject of this dispatch is my thoughts on a two-hour long meeting that, last night, centered around trails management. The area is question is known as the Crevasse Moraine Trail System.

This meeting was moderated by Sarah Wilson Doyle, who is a USKH employee. Her role, as I understood it, was to give the 50-or-so attendees a very general overview relating to the future plans for the area, and to collect recommendations, the audience of which will eventually be Mat-Su Borough Assembly members.

This is what we were told—and it’s old news; the Crevasse Moraine trails are adjacent to land that’s been earmarked for landfill development. So, the adjoining 360 acres are going to be set aside for trail use. What Doyle wanted, and what Doyle subsequently got, was a trails “wish list” from

meeting participants. Equestrian users, who seemed to be in the majority, wanted nicely groomed trails, signage, parking and access, and varied terrain. All, a no brainer.

What I heard didn’t sit well with me, for it seemed like all present were putting the cart before the horse. I felt that the discussion should have centered on preserving existent trails. Oddly enough, the meeting was held at the Mat-Su Animal Shelter, which is a stone’s throw from the landfill area and the recently constructed recycling center. However, there was no mention at all about a potential solution – slowing landfill growth by utilizing the recycling center. There was also no information given as to projected area growth, or landfill growth demographics. Rather, Doyle sugar coated the discussion by asking people about their trail width particulars. And everyone there bought into this.

Questions I had about the new trail system were who is going to use these trails? Will they be open to motorized use? Will they be multi-use? Who is going to construct them? And what happens when that land is eventually sold? Where will trail users then go?

Seems to me that trail advocacy experts should also be asking the same questions. The problem is, area trail advocacy experts are small in number. This most certainly is true of the equestrian contingent. I recently read an article in a recent issue of Equus magazine on the subject of trails management. It was said that if you want trails, you have to have groups of people working for the cause, like, for instance, the Backcountry Horsemen of America. The problem is that our local affiliate doesn’t have the numbers.

After the meeting, I mentioned this to the person sitting next to me – this, coincidently, was the Backcountry Horsemen of America, Alaska affiliate secretary. She of course agreed. I then asked her if those in this organization passed out organization brochures at meetings like this. She said “Usually. But tonight I forgot to bring some with me.”

Bottom line – this is an instance in which trail users will realize, too late, that once again, they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes. This is because they have no concept of the Big Picture. In this instance, the ones who deal with land-related concerns are those on the Mat-Su Borough Assembly. And, these men don’t give a rat’s ass about the local trails systems. They’re a corrupt bunch who are pro-development. This is because their taking this particular stance puts money in their pockets. Sad to say, this isn’t going to change in the very near future.

I can’t make up my mind what to do about this. As I see it, I have two possible options. I can stick my head in the sand and ignore all this, or turn tail and run.


Next: 320. October 26, 2012: Weather or Not