June 10, 2004

Dear Nathan,

Thanks for your continued interest in our issues. We appreciate your prompt response to our concerns. In regard to your June 3 email, I’ve attempted to prioritize our concerns in the WRST. The testimonials included in our packet represent crucial situations which will likely receive continued pressure from the NPS this summer.

- Steve and Kelly Syren face loss of their property at the Kennicott River bridge through condemnation for the proposed McCarthy wayside. NPS and DOT should use their own land for the project.

- Doug Frederick is now appealing a judgment for, in our mind, clear entrapment for construction of model planking for trail improvements in the Copper Lake area. Closure of trails to his business property following closure of his airstrip is an NPS effort to drive him out of business, as they have driven out so many of his neighbors since the 1980's. Traditional access should be allowed to his properties, his citation should be withdrawn, and his planking suggestions may be a good way to avoid trail damage; trail closures occurred without due process.

- Ric Quayle has been told that his proposed land access route will not be granted. He attempts to gain land access for north shore Long Lake properties. He is forced to get all supplies across treacherous deep-water arctic lake with small craft and motor size restrictions. Current plans for NPS to purchase east shore properties makes the task even more difficult. Access to Long Lake properties should be granted along the old DOT survey line, used for access years ago.

- Jack Smith, my husband, and I face immediate annual access fees attached to an access permit to reach our home on a right–of-way used continuously since 1968. The NPS land surrounding our home has a Preserve Wilderness designation. Access fees should be totally removed from the inholder permitting process.

- The Pilgrim family is appealing the 9th Circuit District Court ruling which denied them access to their homestead. The state should claim sovereignty over all RS2477 rights-of-way and force NPS to grant year-round, traditional access, as is customary on this 100-year-old mining road.

- Dave Syren’s claim of manipulation of voting procedures is of concern to us. Buying a majority of parcels and claiming a vote for each parcel, a new NPS Architectural Control Committee, void of any other landowner representation, took over control of new harsh covenants for existing residents of the subdivision, against the consensus of the majority of individual residents.
 With respect to NPS questionnaires, we only gave you a sampling of all that we have received. Most deal with closures or restrictions of RS2477 rights-of-way in the Park used traditionally by residents for decades. We’ve heard several instances of harassment of hunting parties with low-flying aircraft and ranger visits to hunting camps (where one citation was issued for “defecating” in the Park!)

We also need consistency with regard to access. Ric Quayle is being told he must use access over a fish-filled lake; the Pilgrims must use their route during the winter, only after 13-17 ice bridges are constructed to avoid contact with the streambed because one possible anadromous fish was found. This, on a creek that washes out every year with raging glacial runoff, re-channeling gravel beds, and that has seen 100 years of prior use.

We applaud the changes called for in Governor Murkowski’s letter of April 15. There should be no abuse of the NEPA EA/EIS process, charging five- and six-figure fees for inholders to acquire access; stipulations should be outlined for situations needing no EA’s. Permitting processes for inholders should be revised, streamlined and relaxed with no fees attached. Prior notice should be given before any NPS visits to private property and our constant barrage of low-level aircraft flights over our homes must be stopped. NPS should give precedence to the inholder’s chosen access route. The state should litigate to take control of all RS2477 right-of-ways and hold the NPS to it’s ANILCA promises. Inholders should have the right to use traditional vehicles and ATV’s to reach their homes.

Many of us are concerned that Hunter Sharp may be appointed Acting Superintendent after Gary Candelaria’s departure until the position is filled; Sharp, himself, is actively involved in many of the problems that we are having out here. I personally saw a videotape in which he shoved one of the Pilgrim boys during a confrontation. We would like to see an administrator fill that position, rather than an enforcement officer, considering our situation.

During the last week, I have learned that rangers in the Slana/Nabesna area are seen using government vehicles for personal use (such as firewood cutting). Also, on June 2, an NPS meeting was held in Slana without advertising; we have seen this many times in WRST. Meetings are held to supposedly support the public comment stipulation of NPS regulations, and they are either set up with no notice, or fail to mention an action they are carrying out that day (closure of the Pilgrim’s access). The list goes on and on.

We mentioned the idea of a Congressional audit to Senator Murkowski on the radio last week. Exorbitant amounts of money have been spent helicoptering dozens of “ologists” and survey teams (who destroyed 10-foot swaths of forest around the Pilgrim property). Park information booths are being shut down to fund more enforcement personnel. The Senator said that an audit request is possible and would best be achieved if it came from the entire Alaskan Congressional delegation. We ask for serious consideration of this idea.

Thanks for the opportunity to voice our concerns. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

Susan Smith
Chairman, Residents of the Wrangells

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Glennallen, Alaska 99588