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trail re-alighnment? Brian what do you know about this?
Relocated trail raises questions about public process Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size


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[Image: 561ef861be7cd.image.jpg?resize=300%2C210] Eric Engman/News-Miner
[h=3]Skarland Trail Rerouted[/h]
A stretch of the Skarland Trail was recently rerouted to follow the actual trail easement through the Musk Ox Subdivision as an Equinox Marathon Ultra trail marker along the old section of trail visible through the trees from the new section of trail Wednesday afternoon, October 14, 2015.

[Image: 561ef86739aa4.image.jpg?resize=300%2C187] Eric Engman/News-Miner
[h=3]Skarland Trail Rerouted[/h]
A stretch of the Skarland Trail was recently rerouted to follow the actual trail easement through the Musk Ox Subdivision seen Wednesday afternoon, October 14, 2015.

[Image: 561ef86d69052.image.jpg?resize=300%2C162] Eric Engman/News-Miner
[h=3]Skarland Trail Rerouted[/h]
A stretch of the Skarland Trail was recently rerouted to follow the actual trail easement through the Musk Ox Subdivision, with the old trail coming down from the left and the new trail at the right seen Wednesday afternoon, October 14, 2015.

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Posted: Friday, October 16, 2015 9:12 pm
Relocated trail raises questions about public process Amanda Bohman
FAIRBANKS—A fresh dozer cut along a popular west Fairbanks trail system startled some trail users earlier this month and sparked a discussion about whether there needs to be public notice before volunteers change public trails.
The work performed on the historic Skarland trail system entailed realigning about 1,000 feet of the trail to put it where it belongs: off private property and inside the public easement. The work off Red Fox Drive in the Musk Ox Subdivision was performed by a respected professional trail builder, Jon Underwood, who donated his skills and time.
[h=3] [/h]

The problem is, some trail users liked the trail the way it was. They fear the wider trail will attract off-road vehicles. And there are some style decisions that were made by a few individuals, making others feel left out.

“There needs to be a more well-defined process with how to do this stuff,” said Hank Statscewich, a trail user who lives near the piece that was realigned.

Jamie Hollingsworth, who also lives nearby, said “It’s essentially changed the character of the trail forever.”

Stan Justice, who volunteers his time improving community trails, headed the project.

“It really should be a non-issue,” Justice said in an email. “It’s the fourth time I have had a dozer on the Skarland trail doing completely legal work. The first three projects went by with no comments. Why this one raised such a ruckus is a mystery to me.”

Justice posted notice of the endeavor on the Skarland and Pearl Creek Park Trail Users Facebook page in April, saying that he planned to spend his Alaska Permanent Fund dividend to move the trail to the trail easement and to cut a 4-foot bench with sustainable design features.

He worked with affected property owners and met with officials with the state and the Fairbanks North Star Borough before starting the work.

Mike Bork, director of the borough Parks and Recreation Department, said while the trail is platted by the borough and is in the borough’s comprehensive trail plan, the borough has no direct authority over the path.

The borough has a trails advisory commission and part of the commission’s job is to “provide a forum for citizen input into the trails assessments and needs for the borough,” according to borough code.

But Bork said the borough lacks a formal process to approve or reject trail maintenance projects carried out by members of the public.

“For us to hold a hearing would imply that we have the ability to say yeah or nay,” Bork said. “We don’t even have the authority to come in and say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’”

Bork said the borough informally consulted on the project. A big component of the project was to make a road crossing with a steep slope less dangerous, he added.

Chase Hensel, who is among a handful of property owners impacted by the trail realignment, said he received written notification with maps and an email from Justice about the project, which he supports.

“I felt guilty that I was out of town and not helping,” he said.

At least one property owner objected to work Justice wanted to perform, and Justice changed the scope of the project to address the property owner’s concerns.

The son of another property owner is upset about the project.

Shane Powers said the trail realignment brought the Skarland trail much too close to a cabin on his parents’ property.

Powers’ mother declined an interview, referring the matter to her son. Powers said he lives off Murphy Dome Road now but he grew up in the Musk Ox Subdivision and still uses the trails.

He doesn’t understand why Justice took it upon himself to move the trail.

“It wasn’t like the people were requesting this,” he said. “None of the owners requested it moved.”

Justice drew both criticism and compliments on the Facebook page for his trail work. Some critics calmed down after Justice met with them and provided more details about the project.

Bork said the borough has essentially no budget for trail maintenance and works with volunteers — usually members of trail user groups — to repair and maintain trails.

“We’ve got these trails that are just out there in a little bit of limbo,” Bork said. “We are trying to get some money so we can start the process of realigning trails. Our goal on all of our trails is to have full legal access to them.”

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough
I'm wondering if there are some of our trails that we could do this with. Adding anchoring points to commit people to staying on trail instead of opening bypasses. Also if we as a club should start rating the trails we run to help new members and prospects from personal and trail damage and how could we get this done.
Also how close is the Mine getting to re routing the Gilmore Trail area?
No word yet on what Kinross is doing. They can use the trail to their hearts content as it is an RS2477 mining access road. Realignment of that actual trail will be through a formal process.

The Skarland ski trail is actually not legal....and never has been.
It is outside of its platted right away. That was discovered when a home owner wanted to sell his property....and could not.
The trail work is through the efforts of impacted land owners.
The Trails Advisory Commission has been aware and supportive of the trail relocation.
There are several areas where UAF ski trails invade private property, and have been tolerated, though cause a legal risk.

Skarland has to be moved.
how many more RS2477 trails are there in the area that the club uses or could use if they were maintained? 0nce my foot is healed my new job allows me free weekends and has better pay so i'm up for helping and or heading up maintance. by spring my wife and I will have 3 rigs ready thanks to new shop that's heated.

This trail realignment brought out a lot of questions. Since this is neither a right-of-way nor an RS2477.

Land owners......interestingly to me.....were unhappy with the move.

A couple good questions came up:
1) Who "owns" the easement.
2) Who can modify the trail...with any improvement?
3) Can motorized equipment be used on non-motorized trails.

Though I have answers to these, we don't have LEGAL answers.

Neighbors did not like the use of a trail dozer to make cuts as they deemed it ugly. Of course a trail dozer installs a great trail. The Compeau and Stiles Creek trails, and the Ester Dome simple track are all dozer cut.

The Trails Advisory Commission will, with hope, get the Bourough Attorney at our January meeting to clarify the laws. It seems the current law allows improvement to the trail by anyone, so long as it is in keeping with the original intent of the trail. That is pretty loose.

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