Lake Clark National Park and Preserve: NPCA Assessment
Author: teddygirl | Tuesday September 29, 2009
The following is from the National Parks Conservation Association, an organization is protecting parks for future generations.
Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980 to ensure that a significant portion of Alaska’s fully functioning ecosystems, including those within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, would remain wild. Specifically, Lake Clark was established to protect the spectacular landscapes and pristine watersheds necessary to protect Bristol Bay sockeye salmon and wildlife that symbolize the untamed nature of Alaska, including brown bears, wolves, and caribou. The park also provides opportunities for subsistence uses (e.g., hunting, fishing, berry picking, wood cutting) by local rural residents.
The 4 million-acre park receives just a few thousand visitors each year largely because there are no roads entering the park and no access for cruise ships. Instead, visitors generally enter the park via small-plane services called “air taxis.”
According to an assessment by NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve’s natural resources are in “excellent” condition (score of 91 out of 100). The park’s cultural resources received the highest score of any of the more than 60 parks assessed to date (score of 84 out of 100).
The park’s remoteness, its distance from population centers and sources of pollution, and its significant size help ensure that Lake Clark National Park and Preserve will continue to harbor fully functioning and natural ecosystems. The park’s robust cultural resources program centers on extensive publications and outreach, as well as solid ties to local residents and Alaska Native communities.
The largest threat facing Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is an emerging industrial mining district to the southwest, anchored by the proposed Pebble Mine. If built, Pebble Mine could become the largest mining project in Alaska, the largest open-pit mine in North America, and a catalyst of industrialization in the headwaters of one of the last remaining wild sockeye salmon fisheries on Earth. Predicted mining impacts at Lake Clark include degraded air and water quality (with associated impacts on fisheries), encroachment into fish and wildlife habitat, disturbance and displacement of wildlife and birds, increased competition for subsistence and/or sport resources from new residents and mine workers, and diminishment of the visitor experience due to a loss of wilderness character, a resource exemplified by one of the parks most famous residents, Dick Proenneke (1916-2003), in his Alone in the Wilderness documentary film and journals.
For more information, visit National Parks Conservation Associations website.