Winter Road Plowing
NOTE: To comment on the plan, select the OPEN FOR COMMENT link on the left. Then select the document link titled Denali Plowing EA.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating draft alternatives for plowing the Denali Park Road beyond park headquarters during the winter is now available for public comment. The National Park Service (NPS) is considering plowing the road as far as the Mountain Vista Rest Area (Mile 12) in order to provide vehicle access to an additional nine miles of the road.
Goals of each of the three action alternatives evaluated in the EA include increasing the range of recreational opportunities available to winter visitors, including motorized sightseeing, and providing winter visitors opportunities to potentially view Mt. McKinley from within the park.
Commercial vehicles would be allowed to travel this portion of the road during periods when park concession transportation is not available.
The NPS has developed a range of three action alternatives and one no action alternative for consideration:
• Alternative 1 – No Action – No plowing beyond Park Headquarters (Mile 3)
During the winter months snow on one lane of the Park Road will continue to be packed from Mile 3 to Mile 7 to mitigate the buildup of overflow ice on the road. This section of the road would continue to be a designated backcountry hiker area during winter months.
Alternative 2 – Plow road for full winter season
The NPS would keep the Denali Park Road open to the Mountain Vista Rest Area year round. The Spring Trail would be improved to provide safer access, including up to 1000 feet of rerouting, and some minor improvements to the rest area would be necessary. The section of road between Mile 3 to Mile 12 would no longer be part of the winter backcountry hiker area as designated in the Backcountry Management Plan. Implementation of this alternative may include a phased approach with a trial period as outlined in Alternative 4, followed by a mid-January start date as outlined in Alternative 3 prior to opening the road for the full season in the future.
Alternative 3 – Plow road for partial winter season beginning mid-January
The NPS would open the Park Road for vehicle use in mid-January to the Mountain Vista Rest Area. Components of this alternative include minor work on the Spring Trail and minimal improvements to the rest area. The road from Mile 3 to Mile 12 would not be a winter backcountry hiker area during these months. Implementation of this alternative may include a phased approach with a trial period as outlined in Alternative 4.
Alternative 4 – Plow road on a trial basis for 3-5 years beginning mid-February
The NPS would open the Park Road to the Mountain Vista Rest Area for vehicle use in mid-February for a three to five year trial period. No improvements to the Spring Trail or rest area are included in this alternative.
The NPS invites the public to submit written comments by Saturday, March 16, 2012. Comments may be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/dena, faxed to 907-683-9612, or mailed to:
Denali National Park and Preserve
ATTN: Winter Road Plowing
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755
For additional information about the proposal please contact Paula Homan, Project Planning Lead, at 907-683-6223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.