Park Service proposes changes for Southwest Alaska parks

Feb 2, 2016

The National Park Service has published it's annual look at possible regulation changes - including some for Southwest Alaska parks.

Bears are shown at Katmai National Park in 2015.
Credit Disqus user RieRie Liz / Explore.org

The National Park Service is proposing a handful of changes to its regulations in Southwest Alaska, including adjustments to where camping can occur in multiple parks.

At Katmai National Park, NPS spokesman John Quinley said the park service wants to close an area that has been used for camping near Moraine and Funnel creeks in July and August.

“It’s a particularly popular bear viewing and sport fishing area, and having camping in that area just sort of adds to the potential conflict with regulations as far as keeping distance from bears and other user conflicts. There’s camping nearby, we don’t see this as a particular imposition on campers. They can back away from that confluence a bit and have less conflicts with other users and with bears.”

Quinley said there haven’t been any conflicts that he’s aware of yet, but the Park Service doesn’t want them to occur in the future.

At Lake Clark, the park service wants to prohibit camping and fires near the Proenneke cabin, named for the author best known for “One Man’s Wilderness.”

Once again, Quinley said that should help manage potential user conflicts.

“We are closing the area immediately around the historic buildings and having people camp on the other side of the creek, which is not very far away, I think it’s maybe a couple of hundred yards,” Quinley said. “But we think it will help protect the area from fires getting out of hand, and also just not sort of mixing people who are camping with people who are coming in to see the Proenneke cabin and the life that he lived out there.”

Camping isn’t the only thing slated to change at Katmai.

The Park Service also wants area tribes and village councils to manage the list of those who can fish for spawned out sockeye in Naknek Lake and river drainage. Under park service regulations, participation is limited to descendants of Katmai residents.

All in all, Quinley said it is a pretty small fishery, but the change should make it go more smoothly for participants.

“This is not a change that’s going to have an impact on a tremendous amount of people,” he said. “But it seemed like the move to the authorization to the tribal councils, village councils, may work more easily than the previous condition, which was the superintendent would be establishing a list and the conditions. It’s a bit of a change, but of relatively limited impact.”

Another change at Katmai would adjust the description of a bear viewing spot so that the location is based on the current river channel, which changes regularly.

All those changes were published last month in what the park service call its compendiums. Quinley said those are an annual look at smaller regulation changes.

“So it will be things like no smoking near the gas tanks and some camping closures,” he said. “It’s the sort of rules that don’t really merit becoming part of the full code of regulations to be that formal, because they are things we may want to change periodically.”

Those are typically published once a year, in the winter.

The park service is taking public comment on the compendiums through February 15.