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Planning for Borough-owned lands along the Stampede Road has been a long and drawn-out process, with little motion forward.  After years of working to revise Borough code on classification (a planning tool for Borough-owned land), the Commission threw out years of work and decided to move forward with a different planning tool, management plans.  In a recent Denali Citizens Council newsletter, local resident Hannah Ragland explained the difference:

“Classification is analogous to naming different rooms in the house, whereas a Management Plan involves more specific planning for what type of furniture goes in each room, which of course would be determined by whether the room is a kitchen, bedroom, etc. In this analogy, classification would guide how Borough land is to be managed, or whether it is sold, leased, or left undeveloped, by identifying the overall vision for the area. This overall vision would then provide guidance for specific Management Plans and actions.” 

The Planning Commission held a work session and regular meeting in June to discuss planning for Borough-owned land. At the work session, Commissioners looked at a map of Panguingue B (land along the Stampede Road between the Parks Highway and subdivision) and mapped out where they would like to see different uses occur. Specifically, the Planning Commission is looking at new residential areas, and commercial area. The established grazing area and gravel pit are also part of the map.

Commissioner Steve Jones also worked on a Panguingue B Map, and what the Planning Commission is calling a “Panguingue B Management Plan.”  These are part of the public hearing agenda at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 15. This is not the first time the Planning Commission has attempted to delineate uses for Panguingue B throughout the last four years of work on Title 4, the portion of Borough code that relates to land use and planning.

What is confounding is that no changes to Borough code have been finalized, and what remains in code is the original Chapter 4.25 on classification. The newly proposed code for management plans (Chapter 4.25 Draft 17 Management Plan) would replace classification, but at this time the proposal includes none of the definitions for uses that were in the last draft of proposed changes to classification (Chapter 4.25 Draft 16 Classification).  Instead, the definitions are included only in the management plan specific to Panguingue B.  Without clear guidance from Borough Code as to to how each of these uses is defined, each parcel of Borough-owned land could include an entirely new list of terms or different definitions from previous plans.  Needless to say, this would be confusing for both the Planning Commission, and the public.

 

Two overriding concerns remain:

  1. Moving forward on a map and management plan for Panguingue B without finalizing code is putting the cart before the horse. After years of working on updating Borough Code, the Planning Commission needs to wrap this process up before asking the public to get involved with localized planning efforts for individual parcels.
  2. The Planning commission must include a list defined uses in code, whether they call planning “classification” or “management plan.” Without defined uses, there is no way to tell what would be allowed under “Commercial” or any other proposed uses without a definition.

Public involvement at this time is critical.  Email friendsofstampede@gmail.com with questions or if you’d like to get involved with planning efforts.

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Notice to Friends of Stampede on the Yukon Tanana Area Plan’s adoption:

The Commissioner of Natural Resources has adopted the Yukon Tanana Area Plan (January 3, 2014). You have been provided notice of this action since you or your agency participated in the plan revision process or were included in the distribution list used in the preparation of this plan.

This plan covers about 9 million acres of state land in vast areas south, west, and north of Fairbanks. Much of this area is within the 1985 Tanana Basin Area Plan, which it replaces, but also includes 2.2 million acres of previously unclassified land south of the Yukon River and north of Livengood. Area plans are updated about every 15-20 years, to account for changes in land use patterns, resource information, and changes in state policy. The plan was developed over a three year period, which involved numerous meetings in the communities and native villages within the region.

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On July 31, 2013 the Alaska’s Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW) provided public notice on permit renewal for a long-term permafrost monitoring site near Eightmile Lake.  No new infrastructure is planned for the site, which is a cooperative research project through the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and the University of Florida.

Permit notice: Permit Renewal for permafrost research

Basic information about the site and contact info for researchers: http://www.biology.ufl.edu/ecosystemdynamics/EightMileLake.html

On July 10, 2013 Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources approved a 10-year lease and access easement for the National Ecological Observatory Networks’s (NEON) proposed Ecological Monitoring Site south of Stampede Road.  The site was first brought to the attention of local residents in October, 2011 when DNR provided courtesy notice to Friends of Stampede on the original permit, which they had provided notice for in 2010 but did not receive comments on.  We appreciate the extra effort of DNR’s Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW) to make sure that local residents were aware of the proposal and had an opportunity to comment.  Local residents have had open communication with both DMLW and NEON, and have helped guide site design, and have also worked towards an access and electricity easement that would provide the least amount of conflict with existing winter trails.

Read DMLW’s final permit decision:

NEON Final Decision ADL 419837, 419838

Map: Attachment A – Stampede Site Map

Friends of Stampede provided comments on the permit based on feedback from local residents and trail users, and after much discussion and cooperation with NEON staff in Boulder, Colorado.

Read our full comments from February, 2013:

Friends of Stampede comments on NEON site 2.19.13

This National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) site along Stampede Road was a hot topic over the last year, and in response to community comments, NEON has slowed down permitting to address some of our concerns.  The site remains in the same spot, but some of the logistics related to the boardwalk and power access have changed.  NEON has scheduled a meeting in on Stampede at the Panguingue Firehall on Tuesday, February 5th at 6:30 pm to discuss details and answer questions.

Email friendsofstampede@gmail.com with questions or comments, or respond to the state’s public notice (see below).

Announcement for February 5th NEON meeting

Friends of Stampede Public Notice Letter

Public Notice ADL 419837 & 419838 NEON Inc

Map Stampede NEON Site

On October 1st, 2012 the state announced proposed revisions and updates to the Yukon Tanana Area Plan (YTAP).  This plan was released for public review in July 2012, and after this final review period (open through November 2nd) it will replace the Tanana Basin Area Plan (TBAP).  Friends of Stampede , along with a number of others, requested that the plan include language that supports the proposed Stampede State Recreation Area.  In the response to comments, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agreed in part, stating:

“This issue was discussed within DNR and our position is that the promotion of a SRA (or some other administrative entity to manage this area) is really a local matter and that the recommendation its creation should, more properly, come from the local community and its state legislative representatives. However, it is appropriate for the plan to acknowledge that these efforts have occurred and that an entity of the type that has been previously introduced in legislation is compatible with the land use designations and management intent of the units in the Wolf Townships (or some portion of this area) and is considered appropriate for establishment in this area. A new section will be added under the regional Management Summary (p. 3-97) that expresses these concepts.”

For more details on the state’s recent YTAP actions, see the following documents from the DNR:

YTAP Intent to Adopt Notice 10_01_2012

YTAP Issue Response Summary

YTAP IRS List of Recommended Revisions 10_01_2012

Visit DNR’s website on the Yukon Tanana Area Plan for additional documents and maps

Representatives from the National Ecological Observatory Network presented updated (draft) plans for the proposed Stampede research site on Friday, August 10th.  The information presented on Friday evening represents an update from original permit documents, and was used to generate feedback from audience members about the various site options (especially regarding access and electricity).  Look for more updates in upcoming months, and for now see NEON’s Healy Presentation.

For more information contact Erik Rissler, NEON’s Environmental Permitting and Safety Coordinator: erissler@neoninc.org, 720-587-9501