Plans in Progress for New Access to Chugach State Park
ANCHORAGE - It’s often called “the jewel in our own backyard.” Chugach State Park is a place where people love to play, but the population has grown and so has the pressure to provide more access.
Pete Panerese knows that firsthand. The former park superintendent has worked or played in Chugach for the better part of three decades. He said there are many places where people enter the park, some legal and others not.
Panerese pointed out a small access area to a trail on the North Fork of Eagle River. The site was large enough to hold no more than three or four cars. But several miles up the road is another spot where hikers hit the trail, only that place is on private property.
“Many places that I have been going to for years now have “No Trespassing' signs,” said Panerese. “Some of the places I’ve had people stop me on the road and say ‘you can't come up here because this is private property.'”
It’s a frustration for those who want access to the public park, and those whose private property stands in the way. Ray Nabinger says he sometimes finds skiers cutting through his backyard which also borders the park.
“If it’s mutual respect then that's fine,” said Nabinger. “But if it's blatant, then that becomes concerning to property owners.”
The city and state want better entry points into the park as development along its boundaries continues. A map identifying possible access points has been years in the making. But the plan is controversial with some who fear it could limit private development.
But Pete Panerese said the resource is too important to keep under wraps.
“The access is important to get to this wonderful resource that we have right here close to home,” said Panerese.
A public hearing on the Chugach Access Plan has been scheduled for April 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers of the Loussac Library. For more information on the plan, click here.