Friday, March 12, 2010

The Miller Point Trees - Fact vs. Fiction

Some facts about the proposed Miller Point parking area:
(This information is based on Concept A for the MPAP approved by a consensus of the KSP CAB on April 14, 2008 - the March 16 2010 open house presented Concept B which is different from Concept A; Concept B reduces the .8 acre footprint to .2 acre while still providing ADA parking and ample room for emergency vehicles, RVs, and school buses to maneuver without assistance)
The parking area is eight-tenths (0.8) acre -  smaller than every building lot in Kodiak that cannot connect to water and sewer. (minimum lot size for septic is 1 acre)

The trees to be removed are 60 years old or less  - Jane Eisenman's high school class cored the trees and aged them. (Reported to me - not verified at this time).  They are not "some of the oldest and largest trees in the park". 

The number of "50-60" trees to be removed may be accurate, but the reason there are that number is that they are younger, smaller trees than those farther away from Miller Point.

Most, if not all, of the trees in that small area were not there when Abercrombie was an active military installation - see photos of the area from that time.

The trees are not "old-growth forest" - see above and link to Wikipedia.

No other trees in the park are slated to be removed for Miller Point access - the "clear-cutting of Fort Abercrombie" statements are inaccurate and hyperbole.

The topography of the area indicates that the stands of trees to the north and west may not be  interconnected root systems with the young trees to be removed.  There is a large hump to the north, separating the stands of trees. This substantial northern stand will shield the area from northerly winds.

The area does not affect the cross-country course in any way - in fact, a parking area at Miller Point will help alleviate the unsafe practice of X-C spectators parking on the road which is not wide enough to safely accommodate parking.

Interestingly, there was no public outcry when the trees blocking the view at Miller Point were removed a few years ago - in fact, many park users praised the opening up of the view. (These trees were 60 years old or younger like the trees in the proposed parking area).

And, there was no public outcry about the trees that were removed to construct the new bike trail into the park - many of those trees were larger and older than the trees in the proposed parking area.

The trees are to be recycled for communal cooking shelters if a new campground is created in the Ram Site area - this use would help create a more "Kodiak" atmosphere for the campground.

Creating a "loop road" will require cutting a substantial number of older, larger trees in the loop road area - it will also require a massive amount of fill to shore up the steep slopes to support such a road.  ASP minimum road surface width is 14 feet.  Visit the area and measure for yourself (I did, using a 14 foot rope stretched between myself and a companion) - imagine a large vehicle such as an ambulance or fire truck or RV trying to negotiate the Spotting and Plotting Bunker turn into the RV overflow parking lot.

Sources:  ASP personnel, ASP documents, historical photos of Miller Point, Stacy Studebaker, Wikipedia, KIB codes

FYI - a far more serious and disturbing issue facing Kodiak State Parks at this time is the FAA proposal to extend the north/south runway at the Kodiak Airport 1200 feet toward the mouth of the Buskin River.  The agency review draft admits that such an extension would damage Buskin River salmon runs, thus threatening sport and subsistence fishing in the area.
Stacy Studebaker has started a blog, "Stewards of the Buskin River" and a Facebook page related to this issue.  Look for both to be updated within the next week.  The agency review of the draft EIS for the project has just been completed.  No word at this time as to when the general public can review the draft EIS.

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