Wilderness Watch is concerned that measures proposed by the National Park Service (NPS) in their Backcountry and Wilderness Stewardship Plan for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Wrangells) in Alaska will fail to adequately protect the wilderness character of this great landscape.
Wrangells is our nation’s largest national park (13.176 million acres) and its designated Wilderness (9.078 million acres) is the largest in the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is renowned for its mountain scenery, including nine of the 16 highest peaks on the continent, and the nation’s largest active glacier complex. The Park includes coastal areas as well, and supports a wide diversity of wildlife, including sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoises, whales, one of the largest concentrations of Dall sheep in North America, grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, caribou, moose, trumpeter swans, other waterfowl, golden and bald eagles, and red, silver, and king salmon.
While large size is very important for preservation of wilderness qualities, Wrangells has been damaged by all-terrain vehicle and snowmobiles use, recreation abuse, and inappropriate commercial and scientific activities since the park was established in 1980.
In our comments on the proposed actions, we urged the Park Service to implement the following measures:
- Prohibit the use of ATVs in Wilderness and allow damaged areas to recover.
- Prohibit the use of snowmachines for recreation in the Wilderness. The Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (ANILCA), which designated the Wilderness, allows snowmachine use only for access to “traditional activities” such as hunting, but not as a recreational activity.
- Prohibit airstrip construction, helicopter use, and installations.
- Do not allow any increase in campsite degradation.
- Prohibit horse grazing on park lands—these fragile areas are not suitable for livestock grazing.
- Do not allow the use of any administrative cabins in Wilderness for commercial purposes.
• Read WW's comments
• Read comments submitted by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of WW and several other organizations
Photo: National Park Service