Donlin Creek Pipeline
Last night I received an email informing us of a public meeting in Skwentna April 2 from 1:00-4:00 PM at Skwentna roadhouse about the proposed Donlin pipeline. This after they have put in an ice road to Portage Creek that crosses the Historic Iditarod Trail several times and down 2 miles of the Trail near the Happy River steps bulldozing trees and cutting into the soil even though the permit stipulates no surface vegetation damage. The permit for this ice road expires March 31st. Rumor is this is a first step in securing rightaway for the pipeline. I plan to attend the meeting in Skwentna and would encourage other interested partys to attend as well. Not sure if there is anything we can do but I have to try to help stop what may become the Iditarod highway. Hope to see some of you in Skwentna!!!!
Of course they would have the public meeting in a place no one can easily get to. If the ice starts going out only the folks who live there can go.
Why am I not surprised....
Please keep us posted, Bill
Amazing to me too (not really) that the only public meeting I know of is in Skwentna. I may have to fly if the river starts going out but plan to be there either way. This is put on by Kiska (the exploration mining co.) and Donlin. Kiska is what's called a junior mining co. They do exploration and put together the claims as a package and sell it to folks like Donlin. As of right now the permiting agency DNR does not even plan to send a representative to the meeting. I guess they do not want to have to explain to locals how Cruz construction was allowed to bulldoze their way across private property as well as DNR land. I will keep everyone posted as this unfolds repeating the words of the old country song to myself, "don't take your gun to town son. Leave your gun at home Bill."
go ahead and bring your guns Bill. You probably will not be the only one.
what's Iditarod's stance on this? I can't imagine they like it but I don't assume anything anymore. It'll sure take the Wilderness out of the trail once a gasline swath is in place.
Trail damage videos
Iditarod hasn't returned any of my calls yet but they and Irondog are sponsored by Donlin The ice road avoided the Iditarod Trail until after Finger Lake crossing it just once but----
Here are a couple of videos of what's happen just beyond Finger Lake on the Trail. Carl Dixon at Winter Lake Lodge is going out today to document the 10 foot deep "dugway" they made to drop back down on the Skwentna.
The Iditarod Trail was designated a National Historic Trail http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Historic_Trail by an act of congress. Can you imagine what would happen if someone drove a bulldozer down the Appalachian Trail? Maybe we need to go all un Alaskan and talk with the Feds at all levels.
good to hear people discussing this. While I've heard that this ice road is not directly linked to Donlin LLC, the pipeline is something we've been following. I administer the Donlin Creek Working Group which now has a website for people to comment about things like this. Anyone can join the working group. Here are some resources you will probably be interested in:
1.) Info on the ice road near Skwentna: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/I...-Prospect.html
2.) Donlin Creek Working Group pipeline info:
3.) Donlin Creek Working Group home page:
4.) The Donlin Expedition, currently in progress:
Anyone can contact me directly at Pete at northern dot org or (907) 452-5021
Ice Road gps track
Just received this GPS track of the Ice road. Just under 2 miles is right down the Trail. The red is the current route used by the Iditarod Trail. I have heard that the actual Historic trail route is somewhat of a "mystery" and no one is really sure where the original survey puts the Trail. Maybe this is how they can run a dozer down the route we currently use?????
I just watched the 2 (1.3 actually) YouTube videos you sent and I have 2 questions: Where exactly is the road/trail? Is it heading to Puntilla?
Did Ultrasport/Iditarod use any of it this year?
I hate to say it but it looks like a fun trail, but it will totally take away from the Wilderness experience of the Iditarod Trail. "Oh, just follow the road to McGrath. You can't miss it"
Are they going over Ptarmigan Pass?
Thanks for keeping us posted
Skwentna to Shell Hills
I am afraid a lot of the "modern" mushers, wanna be back of the pack Irondoggers and even a few of our folks might say what you did even though I know you were kidding Pat. Gotta laugh to keep from crying.
We used the section from Skwentna to Shell. The 2 miles they went down the Iditarod Trail is beyond Finger just before the Steps. Not sure what route they will take to McGrath but I was told unofficially today by someone in a position to know they would probably be on and off the Trail. That is my question for them at the meeting but I don't expect an answer.
Full disclosure: I am the External Affairs Manager for Donlin Creek LLC.
Below is the text of the meeting announcement we are distributing to folks. Please pass it along to anyone who might be interested in attending. We are interested in sharing information and hearing comments.
For clarification to some of the comments on this thread:
The ice road people are talking about has nothing to do with Donlin Creek or our project. The meeting is sponsored by Donlin Creek only. We want to update people about our project and our proposed pipeline to bring natural gas to the project site. It is unfortunate that another company's ice road has caused some confusion. Our meeting is a follow-up to one we held last year in Skwentna. The Skwentna Roadhouse has been kind enough to be our hosts again this year.
We plan to have additional meetings with stakeholders along the route as well as one this Spring in the Mat-Su, somwhere along the road system. The dates have not yet been set for those meetings.
Public Meeting Invitation
Where: Skwentna Roadhouse
When: Saturday, April 2, 2011
Time: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
You are invited to an open house meeting to get an update on the Donlin Creek Project and the proposed pipeline from Cook Inlet to the project site. The pipeline would follow portions of the Iditarod trail route and would pass through the general vicinity of Skwentna and Shell Lake.
The project team will be available to discuss the status of the project, talk about field work plans for the summer of 2012, and answer any questions.
For more information, call Kurt Parkan, External Affairs Manager at 273-0200 or email kparkan at donlincreek dot com
Do you folks have a clue or even care that this is a National Historic Trail and what your construction right away will do to the Trail. What do you think would happen if you tried to do the same thing to a historic trail in the lower states. I am the organizer and a racer in the human powered race on the Iditarod Trail and have no desire to travel a highway through the Alaska Range. The ice road is minor compared to the construction easement you are asking for. I am not anti -mine if its done responsibly even my bike came from the ground originally (of course its not gold) but for you to ruin the Iditarod Trail to get gas to your mine is just wrong. See you at the meeting.
Your opinion is important to us. We, too, are interested in protecting the integrity of this trail. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.
So you have plenty of time to prepare what I would like to see at the meeting is a map with your proposed pipeline route overlaid on the modern route of the Iditarod Trail so I know just how much of the Trail you plan to destroy. It will gives us a starting point for discussion without speculation.
Originally Posted by KParkan
Kick some A55 Bill...Cabins and Spots are one thing, but a dozer-wide clear-cut swath is something completely different...
If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?
We will have maps of the proposed route and will be happy to talk about any issue of interest to you, even the work our crews did to imprpove the trail as a result of the Big River fire last year. Our crews cleared a considerable amount of the fall down from the fire last summer. The Iditarod mushers were particularly appreciative of our work. I'm glad you share our concern for maintianing this historic and important trail.
Last edited by KParkan; 03-28-2011 at 10:17 AM.
Caterpillars have no Conscience
Just thought I would share this statement by Cruz Construction:
Cruz Construction Inc. holds the permits to construct this winter trail.
This was not constructed as a winter road this was not designed for wheeled vehicles to be used on. This was constructed as a winter trail, that is only accessible by low ground pressure tracked vehicles.
We did not utilize a D8 Cat as mentioned, we walked in a low ground pressure excavator with a total weight of 30,000lbs, a low ground pressure D6 dozer, and a Volvo A30 articulated truck with low ground pressure tires. The trail was constructed as a multi-use trail built with snow-mobile trail groomers.
At the confluence of our trail and the Iditarod trail in the red lake area for a 2 mile stretch, with the approval of the Iditarod Trail Committee and the Department of Natural Resources, we cleared out and widened the trail for multi-use and safer travel for all.
At the divergence from the Iditarod trail we developed a trail down onto the Skwenta River with the approval of AKDNR.
We agree that this area is very scenic area and we took great care to have as minimal of an impact as possible, by utilizing existing historical freighting trails in the area. This trail was mainly constructed over existing seismic trails, historical freighting trails, and swamps.
Many people have been able to utilize this trail for various activities from running, biking, running dog teams, snowmobiling, and hauling building materials on this trail.
We made four freighting trips in on this trail, utilizing rubber tracked low ground pressure tractors with sleighs that are approved for use on Arctic Tundra on the North Slope. Upon completion of our freighting operation we went out and groomed the trail with our trail groomers from the west end area of Shell Area to the Amber Lake staging area.
Originally, the Iditarod Trail was created to access mining in Alaska. It is pretty cool that over 100years later that we are able to construct a winter trail to access mining in Alaska again
My office is in Palmer and I will be available at any time to discuss this, feel free to give me a call.
Isn't it great to know they have our safety in mind!
Like I said...
Like I said, just follow the road to McGrath, you can't miss it…
Thanks for bringing this everyone's attention Bill and please keep us posted. I owe you a phone call…
I know we're supposed to finish on the same bike we start with, but if this goes through, can I use a road wheelset with 25's to Mcgrath next year and switch to fatties once I get there for the rest of the trip?
carryem with you
long as you carry em with you. should fit nicely with your skis sleds motorized camelbak etc.
Originally Posted by sean salach
I attended the Skwentna meeting yesteday. I was surprised by the format. It wasn't a presentation by the PR guy/ spin doctor but one on one facetime with Geologists, Archeologists and the permitting manager for Donlin. Kiska was represented as well. There were maps of the proposed route for the pipeline and construction techniques were discussed. My focus was ONLY preserving the character of the Trail and I left the meeting with a glimmer of hope. They promised to keep me in the loop. Time will tell. Dave Cruz was not present to defend what they did on private property and the Trail. If anyone is interested in details give me a call I have two finger typed wayyyyyyy to much lately.
Thanks for going and representing us. We do what we can and hope for the best. The bummer I see is even if they preserve the Trail there is still a road essentially all the way to McGrath. Knowing there's an alternative route/road just takes away from the experience.
I'm just waxing nastalgia…
I still owe you a call
Reported for spam!
Originally Posted by Teattadall
This is an interesting thread, but i hate spam.
Donlin Gold has begun permitting
If anyone out there has an opinion about the proposed natural gas pipeline being built on and near the historic Iditarod trail, now is the time to get involved. Donlin Gold LLC has begun their permitting process. This link lists the scheduled meetings that are coming up. Take a minute to look at the EIS page and familiarize your self with the project. 7 billion dollars can sure change a lot of landscape.
Donlin Gold EIS
I for the building of it! There's SO much land here. WE CAN ALL SHARE!
I don't think it is about sharing. It's about the fact that these types of projects always unintended consequences that affect us in profoundly negative ways. One can look at any number of projects even outside the mining/resource extraction industry that have led to profound and negative changes. Think of the dams on the Columbia river and how the introduction of those have be a huge benefit to the people living in the region through lowering energy costs which in turn brought in business, but also destroyed a salmon run that was nearly as impressive as ours here. Add to that the real risk of hazardous materials seeping into the environment.
Originally Posted by mattyrides07
Oh, wait. Were you being sarcastic?
Missing the Point
I think you're missing the point. There's no question there's plenty of room for another trail but the thrill of knowing there's only one way to McGrath, this narrow dog trail affectionately called 'a thin white line', is lost when we know there's a wider, easier less dangerous road 'just over there'.
Like I said earlier I'm waxing nostalgia and many of us will miss the 'one way to McGrath' if Donlin gets their way.
Well Said Pat
You aren't the only one waxxing nostalgic. The trail up off of Red Lake over Round Mt. and down the steps have always been a favorite of mine whether I was getting my butt kicked on skis, bike, foot or even worse at times machine. Maybe with the trail breaking crew we have now we can manage to keep that as an alternative to the highway or maybe it will be a bigger challenge than an old guy like me can manage. Something to be said to have the pros put first tracks through that section. What's even worse is there could be a highway over the Pass and down the Gorge. Lots of room in AK but they are not talking an alternative route they are talking turning our trail into a freeway. Maybe nice for the "new" crowd but sucks for us old timers!
We want... a shrubbery!
I'm fairly certain that no matter what they do they're going to get flak. There's a whole group that doesn't want anything opened up vs. a group that doesn't want existing trails demolished (development of the mine aside). When I sit back and look at these two groups, I guarantee that the group that opposes all development has a much bigger wallet to fight Donlin; so what does Donlin want to do? Build a trail over existing trails... already disturbed land, which is what some members here are against, but this user group is more willing to work with Donlin because they both are looking at one thing -- access.
Yea it sucks, but as both a motorized & non-motorized backcountry user, I look at this as an opportunity to see more of the state via this access and open up more trails off this proposed trail/cleared swath. I used to be the type that liked how hard-to-access areas were all mine because they were hard to access; however, in recent years I'd rather give others the chance to have the experiences that I've had. So with all of that said, I'm not against this trail/clearing, but would appreciate if they do sincerely take any suggestions that we give.
Calvin : Ahhh, another bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs! The second bowl is always the best! The pleasure of my first bowl is diminished by the anticipation of future bowls and by the end of my third bowl, I usually feel sick.
Hobbes : Maybe you shouldn't use chocolate milk.
Calvin : I tried Cola, but the bubbles went up my nose.