NOSB paper

This paper was written as part of the 2003 Alaska Ocean Sciences Bowl high school competition. The conclusions in this report are solely those of the student authors.

The South Coastal Trail Controversy

Authors

Sarah Oates
Stephanie Lamb
Alisha Kiehn
Ariel Larson
Matt Anctil

 

Team Dimond Ditzes
Dimond High School
2909 West 88th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99502

Dimond team photo


Abstract

In 1997, Alaska's Governor Tony Knowles renewed his efforts to complete a coastal trail to surround the city of Anchorage from Ship Creek downtown to the Potter Marsh weigh station. His efforts have met with controversy. Since the initial document that defined Alaska's trail system was created in the 1970's, many new housing subdivisions have been developed along the coast of Anchorage. Many of these homeowners were not in favor of the construction of the trail or the increased traffic flow in their backyards. Other opposition came from wildlife enthusiasts concerned for the survival of the refuge the trail was proposed to traverse.

This controversy led the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT & PF), at Knowles' direction, to request a feasibility study from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), the refuge managers. The ADOT&PF also hired an Anchorage engineering firm, HDR Alaska, Inc., to produce an environmental impact statement to describe the trail design, the construction, and the possible effects the trail would have on the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (ACWR). The project was governed by the rules of the National Environmental Protection Act of 1966 (NEPA), section 4(f). It states that if the managing agency of a refuge finds a project will have significant negative impact, the project will not be approved. The approving agency in this case is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The ADF&G study stated that a significant negative impact would result from the construction of the trail. The FHWA found that section 4(f) applied to the project, and an alternate route was suggested.

For the past five years, proponents in favor of the trail have worked to prove that a coastal route would not have a significant negative impact on the ACWR. An alternate route, called the Modified Orange Route, was proposed that followed the coast, but stayed out of critical habitat areas. Opponents of the coastal trail have proposed alternate inland routes, created citizen groups to inform the public, and hired a lawyer to protect their property rights. If the Modified Orange Route is approved by the FHWA, 177 pieces of private property would be taken by eminent domain.

The Dimond NOSB team proposed that both sides hold a meeting to share information with everyone concerned. At the conclusion of this meeting, a vote would be taken to determine if Anchorage citizens want the project to continue, and to determine their preference of route. On December 11 and 12, 2002, public hearings were held to allow interested citizens to view the construction plans, talk with those involved in the project, and testify about the project. More testified against the trail than for it. No vote was taken.

The Dimond NOSB team also suggested that an inland route would be better than a coastal one to avoid a major negative impact to the refuge but prefer the "no action" option. The team also suggested that funds to pay for the extension be diverted to improve the current trail system. This would upgrade and connect the trails to allow travel to commonly used areas, such as between neighborhoods and schools, to shopping, work and recreation sites. The price tag, in dollars, in loss of wetland habitat, and in loss of personal property, for 13 miles of trail is just too high.

Introduction

In September of 1997, Tony Knowles renewed his quest for a south extension of the already existing 12 miles of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This trail would connect Kincaid Park to the Potter Marsh weigh station (about 13 miles). Originally, in the 1970's, the coastal route was planned to be twenty-three miles from Ship Creek to Potter Marsh and was meant to "turn Anchorage's face toward its shore" (DEIS, 2002). But in 1988, under the procedures of the National Trails System Act of 1968, passed by Congress, only twelve miles of the existing trail was constructed from Second Avenue (in the Ship Creek area) to Kincaid Park because of low funds (Manning, ADN 2001). The existing trail's estimated construction cost was figured to be about one million dollars a mile and was funded with property taxes collected by the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA)(Childers, 2002).

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail has easy access, amazing panoramic views, and is free from automobile traffic. In 1996 and 1997, substantial reconstruction and widening was done to the old trail. The trail has become quite popular and is thought to make Anchorage a unique city. The stated purpose and need of the existing trail was "to provide for ever-increasing outdoor recreational needs" and "to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas of the Nation" (DEIS, 2002). Anchorage's trail system as a whole has received a Trail Town USA award from the American Hiking Society (second-best community trail system in the nation). The Coastal Trail has also won several other awards from The Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Anchorage Urban Beautification Commission (South Coastal Trail, 1999). The existing trail is open to non-motorized users, including equestrians, all year round.

The Southern Extension of the existing Coastal Trail has turned out to be a bigger project than expected. The Information from the involved agencies, the public, and historical documents was collected and used to write several route analyses. These include a "Statement of Purpose and Need" (August, 1999), "Facilities Concept Report" (August, 2000), and a "Viable Alternatives Report" (March, 2000).

Throughout the past few years, the research and planning of the extension has run into several problems. The major concern is that the trail that Knowles is pushing for (which is known as the Modified Orange Route) runs right next to the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (ACWR) on privately owned property (Knowles, 2002). The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, as refuge manager, has already told ADOT&PF that the original orange trail, designed to travel on and through the ACWR, is an absolute no (Parker, 2002). Therefore, they would need to come up with alternative routes that would not go through the refuge. These alternative routes are the Red, Yellow, Green, Fuchsia, and the Orange modified route. (see Figure 3) The main differences are whether theyfollow the coast or go inland to bypass the ACWR. ADF&G has stated a preference for the Fuchsia route.

An ecosystem is the complex interaction of a biological community and its environment functioning as a unit in nature. A refuge is a sheltered or protected area from the dangers and distresses caused by humans. The question that really needs to be answered is this: Will the trail that is constructed be able to meet the definition of the refuge and ecosystem? With large housing subdivisions, limited hunting, and hiking already affecting the refuge, will the trail cause devastation to the ecosystem? The Dimond NOSB team believes the answer is yes; the trail will cause too much damage.

There was a big controversy about whether or not Section 4(f) applied to the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 states that if there is a possibility of a severe impact on the refuge, then section 4(f) applies making that particular route an automatic no-build and forcing alternative routes to be studied (Parker, 2002). And since records indicate that the planning for the Coastal Trail came after the planning for and establishment of the Potter Point State Game Refuge, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has determined that Section 4(f) does apply to the ACWR (Miller, 2001).

The Scientific and Political Aspects

The purpose of this section is to identify the various groups interested in the Coastal Trail extension project and to outline their positions. There are two major categories of interested parties: the political group, which is most interested in how to develop the Coastal Trail extension; and the scientific group, which is most concerned with the impact the project will have on the ACWR.

Federal and state laws governing the use of public lands such as the ACWR guide the scientific groups. The most important is Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (now Title 49, U.S. Code, Section 303), a "policy on lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites." Section 4(f) allows the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to approve a transportation project that requires use of "publicly owned land of a public park, recreation area, or wildlife and waterfowl refuge...or historic site" only under specific conditions. These conditions are:

"(1) there is no prudent and feasible alternative to using that land; and

"(2) the program or project includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the park, recreation area, wildlife and waterfowl refuge, or historic site resulting from the use."

"Use" of Section 4(f) lands includes direct and indirect effects on protected lands. Direct effects include purchasing protected lands for road rights-of-way. Indirect effects are covered under the concept of "constructive use." If a construction project substantially impairs the activities, features, and attributes of protected lands, then Section 4(f) applies. "Substantial impairment" is to be determined by biologists and other experts (Childers, 2002). The FHWA determined in May, 2001, that Section 4(f) does apply to the Coastal Trail extension Project because it would constitute "constructive use" of the ACWR (DEIS, 2002).

One of the primary agencies involved in the Coastal Trail extension project is the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). ADF&G is responsible for managing the ACWR: "This means that ADF&G's primary mission is to insure that other uses and activities on refuges do not harm or displace fish and wildlife populations that use the refuge or reduce the productivity of refuge habitat" (ADF&G memo, 2002a). ADF&G raised many issues and concerns about the project's impact on the ACWR. These concerns included impact on migrating birds, impairment of wildlife movement, impacts on area creeks, decrease of wetlands and other habitat, and people vs. animal safety issues (DEIS, 2002).

Other scientific agencies have expressed concern about the project's impacts on wildlife and habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have all expressed concerns (DEIS, 2002). The EPA is responsible for making sure that the project complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impact of proposed projects by filing detailed environmental impact statements and requires all involved agencies to work together toward consensus. The DEIS was prepared to comply with NEPA (www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa, 2002).

Some local Anchorage scientists have spoken out against the trail extension. Jerry Kudenov, Ph.D., a professor and research scientist specializing in invertebrate zoology and marine biology, has come forward to discuss the project's impact on the ACWR. Dr. Kudenov has discovered a new genus and species of bristleworm in the ACWR. He has described in detail the inter-related food chain of the ACWR and the possible consequences of the Coastal Trail extension project development, including harm from trail construction activities, soil erosion/sedimentation, salinity and water-flow changes, etc. (Kudenov Memo, 2002). Wayne Pichon, a botanist who works for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), argues that the sensitive plants in the area would be negatively affected by the construction of a trail (Pichon, 2002).

In the political corner, the person who seems to have the biggest interest in the Coastal Trail extension project is former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. The old trail was originally created when Knowles was mayor of Anchorage, and it was named after him in recognition of his efforts to get the trail approved. "In Anchorage, much of this magnificent scenery and the wildlife which reside in [the area] can be viewed up close and personal along the Coastal Trail," Knowles said. "A broad majority of Anchorage residents want the Coastal Trail extended between Kincaid Park and Potter Marsh..." (Knowles Memo, 2002).

A statement of the purpose and need for the Coastal Trail extension project was originally developed by the municipal, state and federal agencies involved and a citizen's advisory group that included interested people from community councils, trail and recreational-user groups, wildlife groups, environmental organizations, and other members of the general public. The project statement developed by this group stated, "The purpose [of the project] is to extend the existing Tony Knowles Coastal Trail from Kincaid Park through the project area to the Potter Weigh Station" (HDR, 1999). The DEIS states six concerns to the trail extension:

  1. Termini connection - linking to existing trails in the area
  2. Trail uses - meeting the needs of a broad spectrum of trail users (including disabled users) in all seasons
  3. Continuity - a continuous route without a lot of stops and starts, cross-traffic, or hazards
  4. Natural setting - including natural settings as much as possible on the trail route, integrating with the natural landscape, and providing coastal access
  5. Safety - the ability to use the trail safely, including automobile and rail traffic, natural hazards, Rabbit Creek Rifle Range and legal hunting in the ACWR
  6. Trail connections - connecting to other existing and planned trails in the project area (DEIS, 2002).

The Coastal Trail extension Project is a joint effort of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) and the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) (DEIS, 2002). The original Orange Route, while being the most popular political route, was determined by ADF&G and the other scientific groups to be not reasonable because of wetland, wildlife, and habitat impacts, safety, and other concerns (DEIS, 2002). So it was necessary for the political groups to strike a compromise with the scientific groups. The original Orange Route was reconfigured as the Orange Modified Alternative to address these concerns:

  1. Water bird habitat impact - parts of the trail were moved away from the bluff (e.g. Sandhill crane habitat potentially influenced in the Johns Park-Bayshore area dropped from 42% of available habitat to 17%)
  2. Wetland impact - wetland fill areas were reduced by moving parts of the trail inland (e.g. a 50% drop in the Johns Park-Bayshore segment)
  3. Long isolated segments without immediate access - crossings were created and distances shortened
  4. Proximity to active hunting area - the trail was moved inland so it is more than 150 feet from the coastal flats where hunting is permitted
  5. Coast construction/maintenance issues - the problem segment was eliminated
  6. Disruption of natural processes - the problem segment was eliminated (DEIS, 2002).

The former governor, the ADOT&PF, and the MOA favor the Orange Modified Route (DEIS, 2002). The ADOT&PF developed the Orange Modified Route after the original Orange Route was determined to be not reasonable (ADF&G memo, 2002a). However the Orange Modified Route was developed, at least initially, without the review or input of the ADF&G. It wasn't until the FHWA asked the ADF&G to comment on the Orange Modified Route that the ADF&G was given an opportunity to review it (ADF&G memo, 2002a).

The MOA and many of the other governmental groups expressed concern about the removal of the original Orange Route from consideration. The MOA and the Alaska Division of Governmental Coordination (ADGC) "considered it premature to eliminate the [original Orange] alternative without a more detailed evaluation (DEIS, 2002). The MOA and ADGC wanted to make sure that the DEIS included a full range of alternatives that meet the purpose and need for the project (DEIS, 2002).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) was also concerned about dropping the original Orange Route, stating that "the full range of practicable alternatives is not being carried forward [which would] inappropriately limit future flexibility ..." (DEIS, 2002). Construction of the project will require the COE to issue a construction permit to fill 19.5 acres of the wetlands in the ACWR for which no mitigation has been approved (DEIS, 2002).

Another major political group is the general public, including property owners, community councils, environmental groups, and other concerned citizens. The public input into the project has been mixed. The ADOT&PF has received petitions opposing construction of the trail below the bluff, supporting a coastal route, and supporting an inland route. The Sand Lake and Bayshore/Klatt Community Councils have adopted resolutions opposing construction of the project in or near the ACWR, while the South Addition Community Council advocates constructing the trail on the coast (DEIS, 2002).

Several groups have made presentations to this Dimond NOSB Team. Mary Whitmore from the South Anchorage Regional Trail Advocates (SARTA) is in support of the trail concept but expressed concern that the scientific studies of the trail impacts had not been adequate. Whitmore was also concerned that the enhancement funds from FHWA would only cover 88.59% of the project costs (Whitmore, 2002). Honora Arnesen from Women Advocating Sensible Trail Education (WASTE) expressed concern about inadequate public education on the project issues. WASTE also developed and paid for several educational cartoons to run in the Anchorage Daily News (see Figure 1) (Arnesen, 2002). Janel Feierabend from the Friends of Potter Marsh (FOPM) was concerned about the impact the project might have on the integrity of Potter Marsh and the ACWR (Feierabend, 2002). Attorney Geoffrey Parker informed the Team about the laws that affect the project and his concerns about the way in which some of the political agencies were performing their functions in the process (Parker, 2002).

Not all of the problems will be solved by the redesign of the original Orange Route into the Orange Modified Route. The remaining issues primarily relate to mitigating the project's impact on the wetlands and wildlife, especially fish and bald eagles (DEIS, 2002). An official hydrology report has not been done on the effects that filling part of the ACWR wetlands will have on natural drainage (DEIS, 2002). No work has been undertaken on how to mitigate the proposed loss of wetlands. Disagreement also continues between ADF&G and project team biologists in interpreting study data, especially with regard to bird habitat and the effects of trail use on the wildlife populations (DEIS, 2002). The ADF&G has expressed strong opposition to both the original Orange Route and the Orange Modified Route (as it had been redesigned as of August 20, 2002), stating, "ADF&G staff believes that the siting and construction of either the original Orange or Modified Orange routes will cause substantial impairment of refuge resources and habitats...[ADF&G staff] strongly recommend[s] that...both the original Orange and Modified Orange routes be deleted" (ADF&G memo, 2002a). The final route selection will be made by the FHWA. (South Coastal Trail website, http://home.gci.net/~southtrail/background.htm, 2002).

Positive and Negative Effects

Although the trail is planned to attract residents and tourists, many ecosystems and species of wildlife will be negatively impacted upon, whether directly or indirectly. Tony Knowles has made it widely known to the public that if the extension of the trail is constructed, that it would be used not only by the general public of Anchorage, but also by those not from the immediate area. The influx of tourists to the Anchorage area could have a positive impact on the local economy.

Surveys have been distributed by many groups and organizations around the city to determine whether or not the public would support the extension, and whether they would actually use it if it was constructed (DEIS, 2002). This Dimond NOSB team has concluded that the majority of these surveys are invalid because of the lack of public knowledge about the design at the time of distribution.

One of the environmental concerns being looked at by biologists is a plant found within the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge called Lynbei's sedge (Carex lynbei) that can only survive at a precise salinity level. The grain found at the very tip of this sedge is a delicacy to the migratory snow geese, and it is unlikely to survive if the salinity level in the surrounding area changes even one tenth of a percent. The construction of the trail would cause changes in certain stream and estuary flows, therefore changing the salinity enough to deplete this plant's population (Pichon, 2002). A small population of sandhill cranes migrates to the ACWR every year to nest and raise their young. These birds are not known to interact well with humans, and since the Modified Orange Route alternative extension would go right through or parallel to much of their nesting habitat, they would most likely relocate to a more remote area (Feierabend, 2002). A situation very similar to this occurred back when the highway was paved near Weschester Lagoon. Sandhill cranes were common sights there until the highway was put in, and ever since it has been a rare site to see even one of these birds in the vicinity (Feierabend, 2002). Microscopic organisms, including the newly discovered bristle worm, would also be negatively impacted by human construction in the refuge (Kudenov, 2002).

In the DEIS, ADF&G stated that, "Dogs off leash can: disturb resting geese and songbirds, be predators on small animals, and cause hazard to human trail users." In other words, human impact in the ecosystem would endanger the existing native wildlife, as well as other humans. By constructing a trail in that specific area, it cuts off the normal route that the bears and moose take to get to the Chugach Mountains (Arnesen, 2002). This would make human-animal contact much more likely, therefore increasing the danger of animal attacks. Furthermore, the definite possibility of attacks and assaults on people by the criminal element who would take advantage of the planned tunnels and the remoteness of the area to commit crimes against trail users (Arnesen, 2002).

Not only will the flora and fauna be affected, but the landscape as well. Within much of the area where the orange trail extension is supposed to be constructed are two types of ecosystems called coastal wet graminoid meadows and coastal wet forb meadows. Theses types of meadows are extremely rare, as they are located only below the bluff in the ACWR (ADF&G memo, 2002b). Though these ecosystems will be negatively affected, the extension of the trail will be strictly non-motorized and accessible to everyone. This could be a benefit to the community of Anchorage at some point because it could improve the economy by attracting more people to the area. It also promotes healthy lifestyles, the pursuit of education, and the awareness of the ecosystems in the surrounding area (HDR, 1999).

Though Tony Knowles has said that the extension of this trail would increase economic development, he has not made it widely known that 10% of the currently predicted cost of $37 million has to be paid for by the tax payers of the Municipality of Anchorage. In other words, there will probably be a tax increase in order to provide this money for the construction. "We will be paying for just the construction of the trail for the rest of our lives, not including the cost of maintaining the trail. Because it is supposed to be located along the bluff, the tide will wash over it and there will be constant damage that needs to be repaired," states Mary of SARTA. The MOA would have to pay for the entire cost of maintaining the trail (DEIS, 2002), which is currently estimated at $1.2 million per year (Anonymous MOA, 2002). An additional $5.2 million will be needed in order to take the 177 pieces of private property by eminent domain, 174 of which are only partial pieces while the other three are whole, so that the extension can be constructed (DEIS, 2002).

Suggestions

The Dimond NOSB team has some suggestions regarding the coastal trail issue. First, all the organizations involved need to freely exchange information, show respect for each other, and follow the guidelines laid down by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This act "requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions" (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/ 2002). It also says that all agencies need to come to a consensus regarding any project under consideration. If this had been followed in the beginning, the state would not have gotten this far with the trail project. If one government agency says that there is great danger to the ACWR then the process needs to stop and be re-evaluated. Since ADF&G, as refuge managers, see the trail as a threat to their management goals, concurrence cannot be obtained.

Second, the state and city should try to educate the public about the history, purpose, need and cost for the coastal trail extension. The team found that pertinent information was not shared with the Anchorage community at large. For example, this trail extension is going to cost an estimated $37 million just for construction. Other costs could bring this estimate to more than $45.5 million. This means that this 13-mile trail will cost $3.5 million/mile. According to an editorial in the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) "the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) reports that an interstate-grade four-lane highway can be built in the Anchorage area for roughly $8 million per mile and in rural Alaska for $3 to $4 million. This means the same amount of money going toward 13 miles of single-lane bike trail could be used to build almost five miles of four-lane highway in the Anchorage area." (Allen, ADN, 2002) The team suggests that ADOT&PF change their strategy and let the people of Alaska, especially Anchorage, know the facts so everyone can make informed decisions regarding this project. Some agencies have kept people from knowing about the plan to use eminent domain to obtain the private property needed for the trail. While talking to John Wolfe of HDR, the team learned that the people whose property will be confiscated had only been informed through the newspaper. (Wolfe, 2002) The citizens that will have property taken from them should have been officially notified. The team strongly urges the state government to inform the people of Alaska that they are planning to confiscate private property for the trail construction. As of November 2002, after the DEIS was made available, residents in the proposed trail area were finally notified with a short letter from ADOT&PF.

It is the perception of the team and others that Tony Knowles is working against the vast majority of Anchorage citizens to have this trail built. This feeling was fueled when he "vetoed House Bill 474, a bill that would have injected the state Legislature into local decisions about the Anchorage Coastal Trail and delayed or blocked extension of the popular route" (Office of the Governor Press Release, 02159). He also vetoed House Bill 131, which would not allow a trail to go through the wildlife refuge. The team feels that the "go ahead" for this project needs to be given back to the voters of Anchorage to decide after they are adequately educated.

In 1997, HDR surveyed the public as to whether or not they supported an extension of the Coastal Trail, and if they used the existing one. HDR sent out "50,000 surveys, but only 972 came back completed. That is a 1.9% return rate. Out of those completed, 78.6 responded 'yes' and 21.4% responded 'no'" (DEIS, 2002). The team conducted another survey with the same questions, and obtained similar results (See Figure 2). We consider both surveys invalid because inadequate information had been shared with the public.

"Last summer more than 2,800 people in Anchorage signed petitions in support of a coastal route for the trail extension" (Brant, ADN, 2001). That is 2,800 responses out of a population 266,000. A mere 1.05% of the Anchorage community saying they want the Orange Modified Route. These numbers are still too small to show the true position of the Anchorage taxpayer. Some citizens are starting to speak out against the trail. It appears that the more they learn, the less they like the idea.

In order to get more information out to the public, the team suggests that a catered "trail festival" be held at the park strip for Anchorage voters. Everyone for or against the trail should be invited to attend and be willing to ask and/or answer questions, as well as listen to other people's point of view. The groups that should attend are ADF&G, USF&W, ADOT&PF, HDR, COE, WASTE, SARTA, and other interested citizens. Tony Knowles, Governor Murkowski, Mayor Weurch and the Anchorage Assembly should also attend. The key players would be required to share all the information they have regarding the project. Anchorage voters would be given a "Trail Card" that must be validated by each group. To receive validation, the voter must visit each group and listen to their information. When their "Trail Card" is full, they can vote. The League of Women Voters would exchange the card for a ballot (along with proof of voter eligibility). The ballot would have three choices: the Orange Modified Route, an inland route, or No Trail. As facilitator, the team would like to ask Mr. Whitekeys of the Fly By Night Club. He is non-biased, has the ability to make us laugh, and is known and trusted by everyone. Good food, respectful sharing of ideas and an informed advisory vote is necessary to end the controversy surrounding this trail issue.

If the vote is for the extension to be constructed, the team suggests that the information flow continue using television advertisements, flyers, and/or informative posters put up strategically throughout the city for maximum dissemination of information.

The team also suggests that if the trail is approved by voters, the municipality produce a pamphlet containing simple and precise information on costs and payments, lists of private property to be taken and from whom, future maintenance cost estimates, sources of funding, and the plan to keep the trail safe and in good repair for its users.

Ultimately, however, the team feels that the "no build" option is the best. It would not take from the wildlife refuge; it would not take from the homes of Alaskans; it would not take money from the community; but we can still hike the animal trails in the refuge.

Conclusion

While investigating the South Coastal Trail Project, the team learned several things about the workings of the federal, state and local governments that caused us great concern. Not all government agencies work together in good faith, nor do they pledge allegiance to the people of the community or the project that they are working on. A strong political push can change the process even if laws and rules are broken. The public does not necessarily have access to all the facts.

With this in mind and after researching all the information available, talking to people who are both for and against the trial, the Dimond Team feels that the "no build" alternative is the best option at this time. This alternative would save the Federal Government and the taxpayers of the city of Anchorage money that could be spent improving roads, connecting inland city trails, and building sidewalks and pedestrian overpasses. The cost to property owners in the area is too high, for both their land and their privacy. The other cost is the loss of the refuge and its wildlife. Alaska is special in the fact that it still has wilderness areas, and the citizens of Alaska should try to protect them, not build through them. The team believes that there are enough trails running throughout the city of Anchorage to fulfill the needs of the community. Besides, we can hunt, hike and ski in the ACWR right now...on animal trails...for FREE!

Bibliography

Allen, Bill. "A Question." Anchorage Daily News 12 Dec. 2002, B7.

Childers, Jim. "Project Background". South Coastal Trail. Dec 11, 2002.Dec 13, 2002. http://home.gci. net/~southtrail/default.htm.

HDR Alaska, Inc. "Draft Environmental Impact Statement." South Extension of Coastal Trail. Nov 11, 2002.

HDR Alaska Inc. June 11, 1999. "South Extension of the Coastal Trail Revised Statement of Purpose and Need." South Coastal Trail. http://home.gci.net/~southtrail/documents/p&n081999.htm August 1999.

"Knowles Vetoes Intrusion in Coastal Trail Planning." Governor Frank H. Murkowski's webpage. 5 July, 2002. 12 Dec. 2002. http://www.gov.state.ak.us/.

"National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Oct. 29, 2002. Dec.12, 2002. http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/.

Tataboline, Brant. "Coastal Trail Hearing Draws Crowd." Anchorage Daily News 12 Dec. 2002, B1.

Memos

ADF&G memo a, dated September 11, 2002 from Lance L. Trasky (Regional Supervisor, Habitat & Restoration Division Region II), Mark N. Kuwada (Habitat Biologist Habitat & Restoration Division), and Rick Sinnott (Wildlife Biologist Wildlife Conservation Division), to Chip Dennerlein (director of Alaska Department of Fish and Game Habitat Restoration Division) with 7 page attachment addressing "Coastal Trail FHWA Request for Additional Information"

ADF&G memo b, dated September 13, 2002 from Chip Dennerlein (director of Alaska Department of Fish and Game Habitat Restoration Division), to Michael Downing with 11 page attachment addressing "the extension of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail."

Knowles memo, dated July 5, 2002 from Governor Tony Knowles' Press Releases to the Public of Anchorage, with one page attachment addressing "Knowles Vetoes Intrusion in Coastal Trail Planning: Tells Legislature the Keep Out of Trail Business," Release 02159.

Kudenov memo, dated September 6, 2002 from Jerry D. Kudenov Ph.D 3930 Alitak Bay Circle Anchorage, Alaska 99515, to Law Office of Geoffrey Y. Parker 730 I Street, Suite 226 Anchorage, AK 99501, with four page attachment addressing "A New Genus of Species of Polychaetous Annelid from Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge (ACWR) and issues related to Proposed Coastal Trail."

Personal Contacts

Arnesen,Honora, WASTE, wastewomen@hotmail.com.

Childers, Jim, ADOT&PF, 4111 Aviation Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99502, (907)-269-0544.

Feierabend, Janel, Friends of Potter Marsh and the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

Parker, Geoffrey, The Law Office of Geoffrey Y. Parker, 730 I Street, Suite 226 Anchorage, Alaska 99501, (907)-222-6859.

Pichon, Wayne, botanist for USFWS, 2726 Diligence Circle, Anchorage, Alaska 99515, (907)-257-0216

Whitmore, Mary, SARTA, http://briefcase.yahoo.com/sarta_ak.

Wolfe, John, HDR Alaska, Inc. November, 2002.

Figures

Figure 1.

Fig. 1, "Tony Toons"


Figure 2.

Fig. 2, NOSB opinion survey results


Figure 3.

Fig. 3, list of alternatives



This page is HTML 4.01 validated. Last modified 26-Mar-2003. Contact ASG web coordinator.
 

NOSB home page 2002 NOSB papers