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Pack Llamas Under Seige on Alaska's Public Lands

Pack llamas have historically played an important role on our public lands. They are used for private recreational use as sure-footed beasts of burden to carry supplies. They also are used by public agencies to pack equipment for trail maintenance or to haul out human waste as they do in Rocky Mountain National Park.  However, over the years there have been scientifically unfounded proposals by government agencies to ban llamas from our public lands based on perceived threats of disease transmission to wildlife.

Proposed Llama Bans in Alaska (Past and Present)
In 2012, the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) took action to ban domestic goats, sheep, and llamas for use in hunting wild goats and sheep. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed the science behind the BOG action and recommended against inclusion of llamas. The BOG agreed with ADF&G and removed llamas from that regulation which remains in place to this day.

In January 2015 the National Park Service proposed a …
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Lower Eagle River Trail or River Woods Trail (February Calendar Hike)

The lower Eagle River trail (also called the River Woods Trail) runs along the Eagle River in Chugach State Park and can be hiked all times of the year including winter. Often overlooked, it's just minutes from downtown Eagle River. It's an easy walk that offers convenient access with intermittent views of surrounding mountains and opportunity for wildlife viewing. Due to the flat terrain and accessibility, it makes a pleasant February hike and can be skied if there is sufficient snow.

How to Get There: The trailhead can be accessed from the south side of the Briggs Bridge off the Eagle River Loop Road where there is pubic parking and a boat launch.

From the Briggs Bridge access, the lower Eagle River trail goes east through birch and spruce forest over relatively flat terrain. The old section of trail skirting the private land has been improved over the years and is now clearly marked. (See trail photo.) Boardwalks have been added to a marshy section next to the "Swan Po…

Victory! CNF Llama Ban Rescinded

We just received word from Chugach National Forest (CNF) late January 28th that announced CNF's decision to rescind the llama ban in Chugach National Forest. (See previous blog posts for background/history on CNF's LMP and llama ban.) The "Reviewing Officer's Response to Eligible Objections" to the Chugach National Forest Land Management Plan (CNFLMP) was attached to an email sent to objectors. In the Conclusion section David Schmid (CNF Regional Forester) states:
"After considering the planning record, discussions with Forest staff, and the thoughtful dialog at the resolution meeting, I’ve decided to provide Forest Supervisor Schramm instructions to change FWWLGOAT-S (2) to the following: Personnel conducting Forest Service management actions or authorized activities (employees, contractors, cooperators, and special use permit holders) shall not use or keep domestic goats or sheep on National Forest System lands within the Chugach National Forest." (Not…

CNF Llama Ban***January 14, 2020 Objections Resolution Meeting Summary

The Chugach National Forest (CNF) "objections resolution meeting" took place during the afternoon of January 14, 2020 in Anchorage, Alaska. (See previous posts for background on CNF Llama Ban.) The purpose of the meeting was to discuss remedies regarding objections to restrictions on the use of llamas that are being imposed in the Chugach National Forest Land Management Plan (CNFLMP). Dave Schmid, Alaska Regional Forester (meeting facilitator) confirmed that this is our last opportunity to comment/object to the Chugach National Forest Land Management Plan which will be final in 2020. Meeting attendees representing the llama community in-state and out-of-state participated via teleconference and reiterated concerns to CNF staff that were previously expressed in their written objections which can be found here.

At issue is the restricted use of pack llamas in Chugach National Forest (the forest) based on a …

Historic Iditarod Trail to the Perch, Heritage Falls & Icicle Creek (January Calendar Hike)

"Hike More" in 2020! "Here's a great hike to start off your new year. This hike on the Historic Iditarod Trail starts from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) and ends up at Icicle Creek (if you choose to go that far.) This makes for a great January hike because it can be safely done in winter but bring micro-spikes if it's icy.
Background: The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range and offers diverse scenic sights including glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. It’s not only a great hiking/backpacking route, but it's also an historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. A bit of trivia not known by many is that this trail was rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor.
The January Calendar Hike is the section of the Historic Iditarod Trail from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) to the Perch, Heritage …

Hike More (and Stress Less) with an Alaska Hiking Group

We all know hiking is good for both mind and body as this article points out - Five Ways Hiking Is Good for You.  And we want to hike more in 2020, right? So strap on a backpack and head out with your best hiking buddy or a group.

To get you started, here's a list of Alaska hiking groups compiled from various Facebook posts and websites. The groups range from easy family-friendly to more challenging for experienced hikers. Some welcome anyone; others are women only and are geared for various ability levels. I included website and/or Facebook links if available. If you know of others, just send me a message (or post a comment) and I will include.

Anchorage Trail Walkers -
Website says - We get out 2-3 times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays DURING THE
DAY, usually at 10am.

Women Who Hike Alaska -

Hike Like A Woman Alaska: Typically women only, but may host “family style” events w…