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Pack Llamas on Alaska's Public Lands

Pack llamas have historically played an important role on our public lands by both recreational and commercial users.  Low environmental impact has long been recognized as the pack llama’s advantage over traditional pack animals.  “A llama’s foot is split into two toes, with a toenail on top and a leathery pad on the bottom. The print left in the soil is quite similar in appearance to that of an elk or deer. The design of a llama’s foot allows it to spread on soft ground, thereby distributing weight over a slightly larger area. They are much smaller than most equine pack stock with the average pack llama weighing between 300-400 pounds.”  The Impacts of Llamas as Hiking Companions  (An International Llama Association publication ).  These sure-footed pack animals are also used by public agencies for trail and park maintenance as they are in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there have been proposals by government agencies to ban llamas from our public lands based on a perceived &q
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Barbara Falls or Southfork Falls (Winter Wonderland)

The hike to Barbara Falls (also known as South Fork Falls*) can be done in any season. The frozen winter (silent) falls can be as spectacular as the noisy summer falls. There are two ways to get to this 60 foot beauty in Eagle River, Alaska. The easiest and shortest way is to drive to the gate at the bottom of Ken Logan Circle. Then walk about a half-mile on old roads from the end of Ken Logan Circle (in a neighborhood off Hiland Road.)   Please respect private property. Depending on your route to the falls, you may be walking in a right-of-way on or near private property. Short Route:  Take the Glenn Highway about 10 miles north to Eagle River Loop and exit toward the mountains. Turn right at the first light onto Hiland Road. Continue uphill about 3.3 miles and turn left onto River View Drive into a neighborhood. Veer left as it becomes Waterfall Drive, then follow until it dead-ends into River Park Drive. Continue right to Ken Logan Circle. Most of the circle is signed off-limits t

ILR Joins Fight Against Alaska Llama Ban

The International Llama Registry (ILR) has joined with Greater Appalachian Llama and Alpaca Association (GALA) "in a legal challenge to attempt to reverse the recent ban by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service of llamas on the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Llama owners and organizations have been successful in reversing proposed bans in several other situations beginning in 1996 by demonstrating there is no scientific evidence that llamas pose a disease risk to other species in the wild. We are hopeful that this lawsuit will reverse the decision that has been made in Alaska. The effects of this Rule are not confined to the ANWR. This Rule also threatens the llama species and industry as a whole because it mislabels llamas as disease vectors, which will serve as the leading statement for the undesirability of llamas as carriers of disease to wildlife and domestic animals. The Rule therefore threatens the continued use of llamas as pack animals throughout

Hike to Heritage Falls (Featured Winter Hike)

Why I Like This Hike:   This section of the Historic Iditarod Trail starts from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) and makes for a splendid hike any time of  year especially in the winter after a fresh snowfall. The well-established trail is truly an all-season hike with potential for wildlife viewing and doable for all skill levels. 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 because it offers such diversity including glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. Not only a great hiking/backpacking route, 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. Moose on trail near ERNC How to Get There:   For driving directions to the trailhead at the ERNC go to this link  ERNC Website .  Or go to Google

Final Rule by the USFWS banning pack llamas in ANWR

In April 2020, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a proposal to prohibit the use of pack llamas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as part of a proposed regulation package. The rationale for this ban was based on a perceived camelid "disease risk" which is not supported by science. (For background on the proposal go to this blog post - USFWS Attempting to Ban Pack Llamas in ANWR ) The llama user group made extensive comments during the open pubic comment period which closed June 8, 2020 and also participated in a public meeting held via teleconference due to the pandemic.  Public comment and public testimony clearly demonstrated the USFWS camelid "disease risk" hypothesis was indefensible. Furthermore multiple procedural violations by USFWS were noted. (Go to this link for more on procedural violations -  NEPA Violations ) The USFWS ignored science and came out with a final rule effective August 31, 2020 which prohibits/bans use of