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Assembly bans trapping in 8 parks


In a 6 to 1 vote last night, the Assembly for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough banned trapping in eight Borough recreation areas and on school grounds. Today, however, Assembly Member Randall Kowalke asked for a reconsideration of the ordinance. The discussion on banning trapping is not over. The Assembly will revisit the issue on March 21. The Assembly could amend it, delete it, or leave the ordinance as is.

Assembly Member Kowalke wrote in his request,  "It is my hope that we can actually have a map to see what areas are being effected with this ordinance, clear wording as to what the ordinance actually says AND the possibly to add some other locations."

An Animal Care tally lists 11 dogs reported in traps in the last five years and two reports of dogs in traps more than ten years ago. Mayfield told an exuberant pro-ban crowd in the Assembly chambers that a group opposed to traps near trails approached him more than a year ago with 3,568 signatures, and he felt obligated to reduce conflict among trail users. 

As the ordinance stands today, Assembly Member Barbara Doty's amendments added more parks to the list. On borough-owned lands, the eight recreation areas include:

• Crevasse Moraine

• Lazy Mountain Recreation Area

• Matanuska River Park

• Alcantra Athletic Complex

• West Bodenburg Butte

• Jordan Lake Park in Big Lake

• Matanuska Lake and Reflections Lake (Assembly may have to rework language for these two State locations)

Assembly Member Jim Sykes, of the Lazy Mountain area, made an amendment to replace the setback restrictions with the entire borough lands within the listed parks as the new law would be easier to enforce, he said.

The amendments and ordinance passed with Assembly Member Steve Colligan voting no.

The first offense is a $150 fine, the second offense is $300, the third offense is $500. 

During the debate, Assembly Member Mayfield told the audience they have given a face to the 3,568 signatures. "We’re the second largest borough in the entire state. More and more people are looking for healthy ways to recreate. Obviously there will be conflict. We need to take some reasonable actions to make sure that conflicts don’t exist. ... We need to be able to give folks an opportunity to recreate in a healthy manner. As many of you have said this borough is gigantic. There’s many areas to trap," Mayfield said.

Assembly Member Doty clarified that the trapping ban does not yet apply to areas such as Government Peak Recreation Area where Borough land ownership agreements are mixed with the State, but that agreement work is underway. Doty said in her closing remarks that the rules are a protection for the trapper. "It serves the trapper community to have a clear definition, and I agree with Mr. Mayfield that this was a collaborative effort to really make clear guidelines that last for a long time rather than a stopgap measure," Doty said.

Assembly Member Matthew Beck said he had met with trappers and heard lots of testimony since his arrival in office. "I think the public is well aware of it. ... This is not a new issue," Beck said.

Assembly Member Sykes said the new rules do not ban trapping Borough wide, as one trapper had voiced concern to him. Instead the prohibition for setting traps is in the list of eight parks and on school grounds. 

Sykes said this was the "best solution in terms of public safety and health." He said he added the amendment for prohibition on the entire park rather than setbacks after he provided a map of the extensive Crevasse Moraine trails system to Animal Care and "it looked pretty unenforceable."

For more information contact Patty Sullivan, Mat-Su Borough Public Affairs Director at psullivan@matsugov.us or 861-8577.


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