BLM Alaska Trails and Travel Management
Travel Management in Alaska is challenging due to the vast area to manage (over 80 million acres) and remoteness of the land. Limited road access means most overland travel occurs by off-highway vehicles such as ATVs in the summer or by snowmobiles in the winter. Access across BLM managed public lands include: recreational use, subsistence and inter-village travel, industrial (oil &gas, minerals, etc.) and commercial uses (fishing and hunting guides). As part of land use planning efforts, BLM-Alaska is inventorying trails to assess transportation needs and issues, improving access through sustainable trail design and construction, marking routes and signing allowable uses, monitoring uses, and emphasizing Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail ethics and safety.
Alaska State Office
- BLM worked with State and Federal agencies and Regional Native Corporations to develop outreach to educate the public and trail users about Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, section 17(b) easements and respecting private land. We produced a radio announcement and a brochure about 17(b) easements and "Respecting Private Property."
- BLM continued a Challenge Cost Share agreement and partnership with the nonprofit organization Alaska Trails to develop statewide OHV safety messages. We produced two 30-second radio announcements. One emphasized using helmets when riding OHVs and the second discussed respecting private property along 17(b) easements.
Fairbanks District Office
Eastern Interior Field Office
Steese National Conservation Area
- American Hiking Society volunteers spent a two-week "Volunteer Vacation" installing planking and Geoblock along the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail. Four volunteers supplied BLM staff with over 400 hours of labor on trail sections near Twelvemile Summit and Eagle Summit.
White Mountains National Recreation Area
- BLM groomed and maintained over 200 miles of winter snow trails in the White Mountains National Recreation Area connecting 12 public use cabins. The White Mountains is a popular winter recreation destination for snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and dog mushers.
- BLM replaced the Crowberry cabin that burned in a 2005 wildfire. This public use cabin provides shelter for recreational users on the Trail Creek Trail.
- Student Conservation Association volunteer crews constructed 1/4 mile of hiking trail on the Table Top Mountain Trail in Nome Creek Valley.
- BLM completed a four-year project on the Quartz Creek Trail to construct a sustainable 20-mile motorized ATV trail using the USDA Trails Unlimited program. The old route was located in an area that did not allow water to drain and the trail had become severely braided. BLM rerouted and constructed 5-miles of new trail that avoids wetlands and provided a sustainable trail surface.
- BLM trail crews improved drainage along nine-miles of the Wickersham and Trail Creek trails by elevating the trail tread and installing rolling grade dips to drain water away from the trail.
- BLM field staff replaced three wooden footbridges in the Cripple Creek Campground using fiberglass bridge kits. Volunteer labor was provided as part of an Eagle Scout project.
- BLM cleared 157 miles of trail that burned over during the 2004/2005 fire seasons. Most trails were winter use only and included high-use recreation trails in the White Mountains and along the Yukon Quest race route, and important trails used for subsistence hunting/gathering and transportation routes between villages. BLM was able to disperse nearly one-third of the funding to local entities in the villages through Assistance Agreements to accomplish the work.
Central Yukon Field Office
- BLM completed aerial photography of the Squirrel River Special Recreation Management Area. The photography will be used to identify and map trails located within the Squirrel River drainage.
- BLM dedicated two nature trails (each approximately 150 yards long) at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot to honor of Ron Dettmers. Ron was a volunteer at the center in 2006 and very dedicated to his work. He passed away in a motor vehicle accident returning to the visitor center from Fairbanks.
Anchorage District Office
Anchorage Field Office
- BLM staff coordinated with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, OHV user group representatives, and Eklutna Village Native Corporation to inventory and map 17 miles of motorized and foot trails for proposed 17b public easements within the Knik River area prior to land conveyance out of Federal management.
- The Campbell Tract Loop Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail, completing a sustainable 3.4-mile all-weather non-motorized trail.
- BLM installed a new bridge on the Coyote Trail (Tour of Anchorage Route). The bridge supports fire suppression equipment for BLM and Municipality of Anchorage lands and facilitates winter trail grooming by the Nordic Ski Association. Staff re-routed 300 feet of the Salmon Run Trail and re-vegetated abandoned portions of the trail.
- BLM constructed a ½-mile-long portion of the Lynx Trail (multiple-use/four-season trail).
- BLM field staff and volunteers hardened 2 miles of the Lore Road Trail with gravel as part of the National Public Lands Day.
- BLM utilized an Americorp Trail Crew to maintain 12 miles of multiple-use trail including spot repair, inventory, and brushing. They also brushed access roads to two electronic sites.
- BLM staff completed re-vegetation of airstrip wings on Campbell Airstrip, completing this requirement of the Campbell Airstrip Safety Plan. BLM also installed trail signs to identify a multiple-use recreation corridor along the Campbell Airstrip.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
- BLM completed and installed a 26-square-foot interpretive display of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (NHT) in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The display promotes the 100-year anniversary of the Iditarod NHT.
- BLM used a helicopter to position bundles of materials for tripod markers along the Iditarod NHT. The markers will be installed in the winter (2008) along a 25-mile trail section to assist racers with locating the trail during the various Iditarod Races.
- BLM staff finished replacement of rotted logs in the Rohn Shelter Cabin located along the Iditarod NHT. As a site eligible for the National Historic Register, extra care was taken to make the repairs “blend-in” to the 1938 structure. BLM staff discovered an outbreak of the invasive plant flixweed (a member of the mustard family). Staff pulled and burnt the invasive, but because the plant had already ‘thrown’ its seeds, new growth will need to pulled next spring.
Glennallen Field Office
- BLM installed 250 linear feet of Geoblock on the Swede Lake Trail resulting in the rehabilitation of 1.5 acres of wetland habitat near the Gulkana National Wild River.
- Installed over 1000 linear feet of Geoblock along the South Landmark Gap Trail to reduce extensive trail braiding and protect over 7 acres of wetland habitat. This was the last installation in a series of three along this trail, which provides access to important subsistence resources.
- Installed five interpretive and education panels at high-use 17(b) easements spread across the district.
- Rehabilitated 1.1 miles of the Swede Lake Trail within the Gulkana National Wild River Corridor. Work performed reduced the overall trail footprint from 344 acres in a severely braided area to an approximately 10-acre footprint over one linear mile. This work will contribute to the overall health and protection of the Middle Fork Gulkana River riparian area and protect cultural resources within the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District.
- Restored 250 feet of severely degraded trail along the Bear Valley Trail to reduce impacts to wetlands and a small stream.
- Used willow transplants to rehabilitate and close illegal trails in the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District and the Gulkana National Wild River corridor.
- Instituted a monitoring program and schedule to identify progress of rehabilitation techniques and impacts of users on BLM-managed trails. Monitoring plots have been established on Swede Lake, Middle Fork, Bear Valley, Top of the World, and South Landmark Gap trails.
- BLM completed the remaining trail inventory of approximately 200 miles of trails on unencumbered BLM-managed lands.
- Developed a proposed action for the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District Travel Management Plan. (On hold pending land conveyance issues)
- Coordinated with the State of Alaska on future development of a foot trail system associated with Tangle Lakes campground. Initial layout and archaeological clearances were completed.
- BLM helped to organize an educational outreach project at the Kenny Lake Fair on ATV safety using high school youths. They gave presentations to parents and young riders on using the "right-sized" age-appropriate OHV. This program will be expanded in 2008 to include the Fairbanks Spring Outdoor Show.