Photo B1 – On July 14, 1984 Joe Vogler’s D-8 Caterpillar tractor was stopped on the Bielenberg RS 2477 trail between Circle and Woodchopper by National Park Service Rangers holding a temporary restraining order.  These first four photos were taken the following winter by KUAC-TV. [KUAC279]

Photo B2 - Joe Vogler’s all terrain Delta-3 transport vehicle was also stopped on the Bielenberg trail with the D-8 Cat in the Yukon – Charley Rivers National Preserve near Webber Creek. [KUAC280]

Photo B3 - Joe Vogler’s D-8 Cat and the Delta-3 transport at location stopped.  Note the stunted black “swamp” spruce in this poorly drained “muck” and tundra permafrost terrain [type Fs, described below].  Unlike the McCarthy – Green Butte Road, it would be impossible to traverse the Bielenberg trail by truck or other wheeled vehicle in the summer.  [KUAC278]

Photo B4 – The Bielenberg trail here traverses some of the most sensitive terrain in the state of Alaska to damage from thaw and hydraulic erosion of ice-rich soil. 

Much of Vogler’s route traversed hills and ridges covered with thick, perennially frozen organic silt. This terrain was found along the Alyeska Pipeline corridor to contain shallow massive ice as thick as 50 ft. [KUAC281a]


Photo B5 – Thick deposits of ice-rich, retransported silt [Fs], were termed ‘muck’ by the early miners because of its fetid smell.  This terrain is typical of what underlies the Vogler route and it forms a unique landform in interior Alaska with inherent engineering problems and land-use constraints that create impacts on development that far outweigh the actual percentage of the landscape it covers. [Fs01] 

Massive ground ice at “a” and the soil+ice body at “b” are subject to rapid thermal and hydraulic erosion if the surface mat of tundra mosses and tussocks is mechanically disturbed enough to expose the underground ice to thaw. 

  Kreig, R. A., and Reger, R. D. 1982, Airphoto Analysis and Summary of Landform Soil Properties along the Route of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, Geologic Report 66, Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 149 p

Photo B-6 – Example of extensive terrain damage from thawing bulldozer trail (a) in thick deposits of frozen, retransported organic silt [Fs] in valley bottoms containing massive ground ice.  Thermokarst features (thaw ponds) indicate the presence of ice-rich permafrost beneath lower slopes and valley bottoms. Dark-toned thaw ponds have formed in bulldozed trails that are vegetated by light-toned grasses and sedges.  Note sheetflow drainage captured by the subsiding cat trail at (b) which has now eroded a canyon and redeposited the silt at (c).  More stable upland terrain is weathered bedrock (Bx). Location: along Alaska Highway near Scotty Creek Flats. [cat-trail-erosion]

There was a potential for this type of damage to occur along the Vogler route on the Bielenberg trail.  It was understandable for the National Park Service to have concerns in this type of sensitive terrain.   

However, there is no chance for anything remotely like this level of terrain impact to occur along the McCarthy – Green Butte Road.  The terrain there is thaw-stable gravel and dense till.   A very safe and resistant terrain for any type of tracked vehicular travel, especially over an existing road surface.