15 June 2005
Deputy Regional Director
National Park Service
240 West 5th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Re: User s Guide to Accessing Inholdings in a National Park Service Area in Alaska
Thank you for the recent notice that a second draft of the Access Guide is forthcoming. I understand public comment on the first draft raised many issues and questions that required another round of public input. Prior to developing that second draft, I would like to provide comments on two of the most contentious issues.
Differentiating between existing access and access that would be requested and developed after this guide is finalized is a major concern of many that commented. NPCA recognizes that landowners that have historically utilized access across parklands need to be provided with a simple and easy to understand process for recognizing that historical use. I would strongly suggest that the Park Service identify a method that requires no written application process, waives all fees, and is transferable. The mechanism the Park Service ultimately chooses to recognize existing access needs to do so in perpetuity. I can understand the concern that landowners have about needing to renew their access every 10 years. I would suggest that a programmatic Driveway EA might be in order.
Should any expansion of what s currently on the ground be desired by a landowner in the future, the guide needs to be clear that securing an existing access under a more simplified and streamlined process does not absolve that landowner of the more comprehensive process for new access as outlined in the guide.
The other issue I m aware was raised is that Section 1110(b) is somehow exempt from NEPA requirements. I simply do not understand how this position can be sustained under a simple reading of the law. As you go forward in your review of NEPA's applicability to Title XI and 1110(b) in particular, we stand ready to provide your attorneys with specific thoughts on the question. Please don t hesitate to ask should you think this would be helpful.
Access to private property in Alaska's parks is not an issue that is going away. NPCA commends the Park Service for bringing forward the need to make the process clear, transparent, and easy to understand while at the same time ensuring that any action taken to provide new access is done so in a fashion so as to protect the natural and other values of such lands.
Alaska Regional Director
cc: Mike Steeves, Trustees For Alaska