The Western Talkeetna Mountains, Central Alaska Range, Fortymile, and Nelchina caribou herds all have highway and off-road vehicle access. This access has resulted in hunting restrictions in the form of emergency closures and drawing or registration permits, as well as intensive game management, aerial wolf control, vehicle tracked tundra, impassable boggy trails, and widespread trash.
Last fall, I had the pleasure of a hunt just the outside of the Dalton Highway Corridor. The only restriction was the physical effort to traverse the corridor under my own power. It was a week spent watching wolves hunt, camping in the presence of musk ox, and stalking many bands of caribou. The hunt was not easy; the weather required vigilance to avoid hypothermia, and the traverse through the Dalton Corridor required planning and preparation. A few steps off the Dalton Highway there was no other soul, no human trash, no sounds other than the wind, and the only trails were faint tracks made by the hooves of caribou and musk ox. The meat my family enjoys is even sweeter from the effort required to bring it home. This hunt is a unique experience that is available to all Alaskans, even those that cannot afford an ORV or a bush plane.
Senate Bill 85, opening the Dalton Highway corridor to off-road vehicles, will take away that opportunity for all Alaskans to experience such a high-quality hunting experience.
Larry Freeman / Fairbanks