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Railroad bill for north access dies

by Sue Deyoe ~ October 12th, 2010

A controversy dealing with access along the northern boundary of Denali National Park, in the form of a railroad, has come to a close.  In 2001, a bill passed thru the Alaska state legislature that would have a potentially damaging impact on the northern boundary of the Park OR according to supporters, the project might bring millions of visitors to Healy.

House Bill 244 would have given 3,500 acres of land to the Denali Borough in order to build a commercial railroad along the Stampede road corridor all the way to Kantishna.  Its sunset date was fall of 2010.

Current Borough mayor, Dave Talerico, says locally, there were about 4 people supportive of the bill.  However, most other local residents were against the idea.  He says that most of the hunters, snowmachiners, skiers and backpackers saw the potential right of way as a destruction of their historical access.   The deal would have given an exclusive contract to one company, Kantishna Holdings.

Over the years, he says the Denali Borough Assembly has tried to come up with another bill that seems more equitable.  The year before last, a Stampede Recreation Area proposal was introduced to the legislature and thrown out.  Last year, the bill was re-introduced.  Talerico says he thinks it is fair to every user group and takes nothing away from the state land area.  A state designation would preserve it for future generations of hunters, skiers, hikers, berry picking enthusiasts and local trappers, he said.

As of September, the idea of the railroad along Stampede Road is dead.  However, Talerico says he wouldn’t be surprised if the same interested individuals would come back with a new proposal.

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