Murkowski: Extension Ensures Alaskans Can Have a Voice in Public Lands Planning Process

Comment Period Extended for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Plan

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement after the National Park Service (NPS) agreed to extend the public comment period on its proposed Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (WRST) Backcountry and Wilderness Stewardship Plan and General Management Plan by an additional 30 days. The Service’s announcement comes after Sen. Murkowski sent a letter to the Service calling on the agency to extend the comment period. 

“This extension will help ensure that Alaskans have a say in how the federal government proposes to manage wilderness and backcountry areas in our state,” said Murkowski. "The NPS is considering changes that will affect the way the park operates for decades to come. I’ve heard from many concerned Alaskans who use the park on a regular basis—whether for subsistence purposes, recreational use, or as a base for operating concessions—that they simply need more time to digest this plan and work with the Park Service during this busy summer season. Although I requested a 60-day extension, I’m pleased that NPS has at least provided an additional 30 days for comment.”

The NPS is preparing a Backcountry and Wilderness Stewardship Plan/General Management Plan Amendment and NEPA compliance document for 9.4 million acres of congressionally designated wilderness and 1.5 million acres of backcountry in the WRST. According to the agency, "the Backcountry and Wilderness Stewardship Plan will serve as an update to the park's 1986 General Management Plan by specifying management for the designated and eligible wilderness areas of WRST. It will help park staff guide programs and set priorities for resources stewardship and science, visitor use, facilities and operations for specific areas of the WRST backcountry and wilderness for the next 20 years." 

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. A copy of her letter to the Service seeking a comment period extension is available on the Committee’s website.