FAIRBANKS — The National Park Service backtracked Tuesday when it announced it will accept entries for the annual Denali Road Lottery by phone and mail.
Complaints from the public prompted the park service to modify the online-only system it instituted this year before the June 1 opening of the application period for this year’s lottery, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said.
The lottery determines the 1,600 winners of permits to drive into Denali National Park and Preserve after the tourist season in mid-September. The lottery attracts about 10,000 entries each year. The 2011 road lottery is scheduled for Sept. 16-19.
“It wasn’t so much the numbers (of complaints) but the legitimacy of the concerns they raised,” Fister said in explaining the switch.
Some people did not want to provide their credit card number on the Internet. Others did not have easy access to the Internet. Many people also were confused about the new system, which required a separate email address for each entry.
Mailed entries will be accepted immediately while entries over the phone will be accepted starting June 17. The application period runs through June 30.
“It was an option that recreation.gov could provide, and we decided to have them activate it,” Fister said of the Internet company the park service contracted with to handle the online application process.
It will take about a week to train personnel on the phone system, Fister said, explaining the delay in when phone entries will be accepted. Callers will need to provide a credit card number to pay their $10 entry fee, as well as a $25 road lottery fee if they win.
The park service originally switched to an online-only entry system because it was cheaper and more environmentally friendly with no mailing involved. The agency cited the fact that more than 75 percent of lottery applicants have applied via the Internet since online entries were made an option two years ago.
More than 2,000 people have already submitted online entries since the application period opened June 1. This is the first time since the lottery began in 1990 that entries will be taken over the phone, Fister said.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.
HOW TO APPLY
The application period ends June 30.
Go to www.recreation.gov. The online entry form will be available until midnight June 30.
Starting June 17, entries will be accepted by phone at (877) 444-6777 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Entries can be mailed to Road Lottery, Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755. Mailed entries must be received at the park by June 30 to be included in the drawing. Mailed entries should contain a legible return address, including a first and last name on the envelope; the desired lottery dates in order of preference on the back of the envelope (If no dates are provided, the dates of Sept. 16, 17, 18, and 19 will be assigned in that order). A check or money order for $10 made payable to the National Park Service must be included.