Land use settlement maintains Knik River, glacier access

Friday, May 19, 2017 - 13:52
  • Photographer Micahel Dinneen rides across a creek during a bicycle trip to the Knik Glacier earlier this spring. (Photo for the Star by Michael Dinneen)
  • A map showing negotiated site easements and trails in the Friday Creek Drainage. (Image courtesy Alaska Department of Natural Resources)

Eklutna Inc. has reached a settlement with federal and state agencies, preserving popular access points within the Knik River Public Use Area.

The settlement followed a yearlong negotiation between the local Native corporation, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Bureau of Land Management, according to an April 19 statement from the DNR. The negotiations began after BLM – conveying property to Eklutna Inc. under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act – neglected to include the required public access easements within the Friday Creek Drainage, said DNR spokeswoman Elizabeth Bluemink.

The lands conveyed to Eklutna by BLM bisect state land, Bluemink said. The new easements create a corridor between the Knik River to the south and Eklutna lands to the north, allowing continued public access to the Knik Glacier, Jim Creek and other popular recreational sites in the area.

While the settlement took time, Bluemink said, it required few other changes.

“It was the sort of thing where we didn’t have to do huge amounts of reorientation,” she said. “None of the trails are going to change. The trails that are there now, they’re actually going to stay the same.”

Besides trails, the settlement agreement also concerned submerged lands beneath the Knik River, according to DNR. Though the land was included in BLM’s original conveyance to Eklutna, DNR claimed it for the State of Alaska, and the recent settlement excluded it from the final conveyance.

Despite the “unpleasant situation,” Bluemink said the state was pleased with the process and the terms of the settlement.

“We wanted to make sure that we were in very good communication with them,” said said. “We had a lot of meetings.

Representatives of Eklutna, Inc. were unavailable for comment Friday.

Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at [email protected]

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