ROW ALERT!
Posted by Susan at 6:16 pm, February 20th 2007.

*** ROW ALERT ***
February 17, 2007
Several regulation changes have been proposed by the National Park Service (NPS) for NPS units in Alaska to update provisions governing subsistence use of timber, wildlife distances, solid waste disposal, off-road vehicle use, and other activities. The public comment period ends FEBRUARY 26, 2007 so your immediate attention is required. A complete listing of the proposed rule changes may be downloaded at www.regulations.gov . Enter search parameters: Open for Public Comment, National Park Service, Proposed Rules, Submit, then click on the View desired. Hard copies may be acquired by contacting NPS at the address below.

The very first proposed change is troubling. NPS seeks to delete the definition of the term "adequate and feasible access" from the Part 13 regulations. They claim that the term is not even used in Part 13 and has been "superceded" by the similar definition now found at 43 CFR 36.10(a)(1), Access to Inholdings, and that the deletion is "...a non-substantive administrative correction without regulatory effect."

I beg to differ. Residents of the Wrangells have pointed out the discrepancy between the two definitions to NPS several times in the past. The definition for adequate and feasible access proposed for deletion reads "...a reasonable method and route of pedestrian or vehicular transportation which is economically practicable for achieving the use or development desired by the applicant on his/her non-federal land occupancy interest, but does not necessarily mean the least costly alternative."

The definition which would remain reads "...a route and method of access that is shown to be reasonably necessary and economically practicable but not necessarily the least costly alternative for achieving the use and development by the applicant..."

Note that the remaining definition not only omits the reference to pedestrian and vehicular transportation, but states that the route must be shown to be reasonably necessary. These are two very important shifts in thinking about the access concept which do indeed have substantive administrative and regulatory effects. Also,the reference to the applicant’s "desired" use and development was deleted.

Both definitions have existed in the regulations for twenty years. Unfortunately, when NPS regulations for Alaskan parks were developed in 1986, the altered definition went on the books. They now wish to delete any reference to the original ANILCA definition. In my opinion, if the term is deleted from Title 36, then the definition in Title 43 should be changed to relect the original wording.

The existing regulation regarding subsistence use of timber and plant materials states that live standing timber with a diameter of three inches or less at ground height may be cut without a permit. For live standing timber greater than three inches, cutting may be allowed "...in accordance with the specifications of a permit..." The next paragraph adds"... the non-commercial gathering of dead or downed timber for firewood shall be allowed without a permit in park areas where subsistence uses are allowed."

This important guarantee is not a section proposed for change. However, NPS proposes to delete the reference to "live" timber in paragraph (a) (1) to read, "For standing timber of diameter greater than three inches at ground height, the Superintendent may permit cutting in accordance with the specifications of a permit." This omission of the word "live" implies that a permit may be required for dead and live timber, in opposition to paragraph (b).

NPS refers to regulation 36 CFR 13.35(a), passed in December of 2004, which states, "The Superintendent may authorize with or without conditions the collection of dead standing wood in all or a portion of a park area. Collecting dead or downed wood in violation of terms and conditions is prohibited." In combination, these regulations present a mixed message and would imply that rural residents should now have permits to cut dead wood.

NPS offers to relax certain restrictions with respect to solid waste disposal in several Alaskan parks. Here in Wrangell - St. Elias, "Transfer stations will be allowed without a permit, on non-federal land within the park area, if it is determined that it will not degrade resources. These sites may accept non-NPS solid waste generated within the boundaries of the park area." Sites may also be located within one mile of existing facilities. NPS defines a transfer station as "...a public use facility for the deposit and temporary storage of solid waste, excluding a facility for the storage of a regulated hazardous waste."

Again, public comment will only be received by the agency until February 26, 2007. We encourage you to write to NPS and voice your concerns. Any comment related to this proposal must include the agency name (NPS) and Regulatory Information Number (1024-AD 38). Comments may be submitted:
1. Online www.regulations.gov
2. Email akro_regulations@nps.gov
3. Mail NPS Regional Director Marcia Blaszak, Alaska Regional Office, 240 West 5th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501
4. Fax (907) 644-3805

Please be advised that any comment, and your identifying information, will become a matter of public record.

Susan Smith,
ROW Chairman
Email: residentsofwrangells@yahoo.com

ALSO:
1. Check out ROW’s new web page, with blogs, still under construction at www.rowonline.org
2. NPS User’s Guide committee awaiting feedback from DC lawyers, more later.
3. Please mail in your $10 annual ROW Membership Dues at this time. Thanks!


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