October 06, 2004
The Murkowski administration will push for federal approval of a northern access corridor into Denali National Park, Murkowski said. The Interior Department also needs to increase access into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and allow more cruise ships into Glacier Bay National Park, the governor said. These are Alaska's number one and number two visitor destinations.
"Tourism is another example of using Alaska's natural resources to provide jobs to Alaskans to grow the state economy," Governor Murkowski said. "To that end, we'll push for greater access in the federal parks which to an increasing degree is the bottlenecks to accommodating more tourism to the state."
Denali National Park has more than 300,000 visitors each year. Its lone entrance road is already overburdened. A northern access corridor would ease that burden and increase the potential for private tourism ventures in the northern region of the park outside the wilderness areas.
"It's simply wrong to have a national park that large - a park that so many people from around the nation want to see - and yet they can't get past the entrance," Governor Murkowski said. "We must go beyond simply reviewing and planning, we must begin taking action to provide adequate access to Denali National Park."
A 1997 feasibility study by the National Park Service found that a road from the Parks Highway north of Healy extending 90 miles to Kantishna would cost $100 million. A rail line along that route could cost $200 million.
The ATIA has been talking to the National Park Service to develop short-term and long-term solutions to some of the access conflicts. "I will make sure the state is at the table to push for solutions," Governor Murkowski said.
ATIA members from around the state including Ketchikan were in attendance.
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