The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is increasing access to Rabbit Slough in the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge through a nearly $43,000 improvement project that will add more parking spaces to accommodate trucks with trailers.

“There will be an access road that will loop back all the way around the existing parking lot and that should make maneuvering boats with trailers a lot easier for the public,” said habitat biologist Adam DuBour.

Rabbit Slough is a popular place for waterfowl hunters to launch boats to get to the refuge, but Dubour said the parking lot can no longer handle the high number of visitors. On opening day for waterfowl hunting in 2018, photographs show multiple trucks trying to cram into the small lot. 

ADFG says they will also put in a platform that will give families and people with mobility challenges a place for bank fishing. Next year, there are plans to install a concrete boat launch.

“One of the problems currently with a soft boat launch is as trucks are trying to pull their trailers back out, they’re spinning tires and it's causing more erosion,” DuBour said. “Over time this is king of getting dug out more and more. So a hardened boat launch will fix that problem, make getting in and out a lot easier.”

DuBour said Rabbit Slough is one of the four main places to access the 29,000-acre refuge and they want to give people every opportunity to get out there.

“We might think we have unlimited resources, but if we can’t get to them, the public can’t enjoy them,” he said.

A majority of the parking lot project is paid for with federal funds from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act, which is an excise tax on firearms and ammunition sales. ADFG will also use money the state collects from when people buy their hunting licenses.

The boat launch project is estimated to cost about $120,000. Like the parking lot project, about 75% of the money is coming from federal funds. The other portion will come from the Kiewit Corporation as part of the company’s permit to fill in wetlands during the early 2000s Parks-Glenn interchange expansion.

The Rabbit Slough parking lot will be closed intermittently for construction. People are asked to obey the construction signs and avoid the area if crews are working.

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