KBCS Blog

Support Rehabilitation of Caribou Lake Trail

Send in your Support for the Rehabilitation of Caribou Hills Peatlands

Snomads Inc. intends to undertake rehabilitation, maintenance, marking, and grooming of the severely degraded Caribou Lake Trail, known locally as the Boardwalk Trail. As a first step, they will focus on the first 1.9 miles of trail: they are applying for a grant to work on this fist step, and need our letters of support.

Please write in brief comments to those considering the grant application:

Parks.RTPGrantApp@alaska.gov

ricky.geese@alaska.gov

natalya.fomina@alaska.gov

What is this Project?

Off Road Recreational Vehicle users (ORRV) users currently avoid an entire 1.36 miles long section of the Board Walk trail by diverting away from the trail and out onto the wetlands. This has resulted in dramatic increase in severe wetland damage from year to year, including altered hydrology.

The combination of larger ATVs and a recent rapid increase in recreational users has created a small disaster out there: the peatlands have been pretty destroyed and it is unsafe for riders. Snomads is proposing rehabilitation of the upland portion of the trail to improve the experience and access to public lands. Subsequent trail segments on wetland portions of the trail will be planned for future rehabilitation in consultation and partnership with DNR, ADF&G, HSWCD, USACE, and others where a more complex solution set is required. Snomads is planning an aggressive trails management agenda in the coming years, raising funds with grants and private funding sources to secure trail permits and easements, rehabilitating and upgrading the Caribou Hills South Trail System trails from an USDA Forest Service Tier 1 level, to Tier 3 hardened trails.

Why do we need this project?

In the late 1990s, a collaborative effort to create a sustainable access route to Caribou Lake from the road system resulted in the construction of the “Boardwalk Trail”  for about six miles between Willard Road and the lake. For over a decade, the wooden boardwalk met the needs of diverse users, which allowed the ATV-damaged wetland areas to start to heal. In the last few years, however, the boardwalk has deteriorated with deep ruts, broken boards, and 6 in nails poking up to create a mile-long spiked mat. At the same time, the numbers of recreationists and hunters accessing areas around Caribou Lake and Fox Creek rim has risen, along with and the size, weight, and power of vehicles used out there. Simultaneously, the poor condition of the trail has severely limited access for  users such as horse riders, runners, and bikers. In addition, vehicles used for backcountry travel are now too large to travel on the old Boardwalk Trail even, if that trail were to be maintained. New channels created by vehicles now intersect natural drainages, altering the directions of flows that support wetlands and area streams, including Fox Creek, which is anadromous. Further, state land disposals around Caribou Lake and along the rim of Fox Creek Canyon have intensified the need for overland access that is sustainable. Rehabilitation of the Board Walk Trail will give users a reason to return to the hardened trail path, as users will almost always follow the easiest route, and/or regain their access to State land. Trail rehabilitation will also allow the surrounding wetlands to recover.

What's the Plan?

Snomads will hire a local contractor to install a temporary construction bridge (dozer sled) over Moose Creek beside the existing ATV Bridge. The first 0.53 miles of the trails is already cleared to a minimum of 24 ft within the trail corridor. The remainder 1.36 miles will need to be cleared of a 24’ corridor (Trailway Clearance) and minor straightening (within the Easement) where convenient and using a forestry mulcher to mulch excess vegetation and boardwalk remnants, leaving mulch and vegetation to create a debris berm along the sides for sediment control. The entire 1.9 mile long trail will need to include grading, cutting, and filling existing soils to create an 8’ meandering trail bed, using side fill materials. At the end of the summer, the entire trail will be seeded across all disturbed soils across the entire width of clearing. After freeze up, (when approved by overland travel permit), the contractor will scrape and plow any snow from the 8’ wide trail bed, and access route, allow to freeze down. This to prepare for the install of heavy duty geotextile, HP570 or equivalent, and the addition of imported 8” of sized road topping 8’ wide Trail Bed base, with 2-1 shoulders, for a 6’ finished Trail Tread. The contractor will incorporate passing areas 16’ wide by 30’ long at various intervals along the trail and remove their temporary heavy equipment bridge when the work is finished.

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See Images of Trail Here