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January 3, 2012: Game Management Area 14-A

We live on the edge of state land, what in fact is called the Matanuska Moose Range. It’s a very large area, roughly (I have been told) the size of the state of Rhode Island. And Pete and I often ride in a small section of it – this is called the Moose Meadows. It’s a popular area for silent sport users – cross country skiers, ATVers, bicyclists, horseback riders, snowshoers, and hikers use it year around. I mainly horseback ride, but I have also done most of the other listed activities.

The Moose Meadows is also a haven for motorized users – ATVers, snowmachiners, swamp buggy users, and monster truck enthusiasts have, sad to say, claimed this area as their own. I say this because irresponsible motorized use precludes non-motorized use. This is just a given.

The problem at our end of the world is that the motorized users frequent the area during hunting season, which coincides with what I call the Alaska Monsoon. It now rains around here all summer, but the heaviest rainfalls occur from late August until the end of September. The ground, which to a large point comprised of hydrologic soil, is extremely fragile. The motorized users, either knowingly, or unknowingly, create huge ruts that fill with mud and water. They then play in these ruts. When the ruts are too deep to go through safely, they go around them, creating more ruts. This is called braiding.

The silent sport enthusiasts suffer the consequences because by late September the trails are impassable. And if you’re on horseback, they’re dangerous. And each year, said trails become even more trashed, and consequently more dangerous. It’s a never-ending and very sad cycle.

I put considerable effort into the trails portion of a community comprehensive plan a few years back, only to have the community decide to “quash” the plan. Their reasoning was that if passed, that they’d be subject to even more governmental regulations. In the plan, it was recommended that the Moose Meadows area be designated a non-motorized hunt area.

I, of course, threw my hands up in the air. However, I’m now thinking that I ought to again attempt to do something. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologists, moose numbers are up in Game Management Area 14-A. (Meaning, perhaps that there are more moose here than there are people in Rhode Island). This Game Management Area includes the Moose Meadows. This means that quite possibly, more permits than previously might be issued for the fall, 2013 hunt. And so, there will be more hunters in the area. And more hunters means more ATV traffic. And more ATV traffic means more trail trashing.

I’m going to organize a letter writing campaign, that is one in which I urge the Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials to make the Moose Meadows a non-motorized hunt area. This probably won’t happen anytime soon. In fact, it may take years. All it will take is for a higher up to say “Hey, I have an idea. . . .”
This, after all, is how the human mind works.

This is a start, and a good one at that. Raudi has also told me that she’s going to address this matter on her Facebook page.

Next: 4. 12/4/13: I don’t need another horse