Committees‎ > ‎

Comsat Quarry

DNR issued a public notice of their intention to designate the Comsat Quarry site as a statewide material site, and additional intention to issue a long term management agreement to the Dept. of Transportation. Public comments are accepted until October 25th. Below the Quarry Committee has two examples of letters sent regarding these issues. If you would like additional talking points, please contact Rebecca Cozad at rebfisher@gmail.com or go to the Comsat Area Lakes and Land Alliance website:


https://comsat-area-lakes-and-land-alliance-calla.ghost.io



October 2, 2021


From: Brian and Diane Okonek

P.O. Box 583

Talkeetna, AK  99676


To: Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining, Land and Water

Carol.hasburgh@alaska.gov 


Ref: ADL #231512, Comsat quarry and gravel pit along Comsat Road, Talkeetna area  


Dear Carol Hasburgh,


Please include this letter in the records for:

  1. For both the ADL #231512 and ADL #215567 proceedings
  2. CALLA’s appeal to the DNR Commissioner to classify the land for public recreation-dispersed, and habitat
  3. DNR appeal to the MSB’s determination that the state must go through the Conditional Use Permit process if there is a quarry operation at the site


We can not agree with DNR’s determination to re-designate state land (ADL #231512), consisting of 113 acres, along the Comsat Road near Talkeetna as a Material’s Site.  Time has changed since the State of Alaska began extracting rock and gravel from the site without apparently designating the land for such purpose.  Now the lands adjacent to the site are in private ownership or are part of a park for nonmotorized recreation.  An industrial quarry is no longer appropriate at this location. 


During the summers of 2017, 2019 and 2020 there was activity blasting and extracting bedrock from a quarry that had been dormant for some time along the Comsat Road not far from Talkeetna.  This Comsat quarry activity proved how disruptive such an operation is when it is located close to residential homes and a MSB park. Near the quarry are several subdivisions whose residents were impacted by the noise of blasting, heavy equipment removing rock and loading dump trucks, truck traffic to and from the quarry along a narrow two lane road without any shoulders and dust.  Adjacent to the 100 plus acre DNR site is the Talkeetna Lakes Park.  The Talkeetna Lakes Park is a designated non-motorized use area to allow a region for residents and visitors from around the world to enjoy quiet walks around the many lakes, paddling on the pristine lakes, watching and listening to birds, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.  It is a very popular place for people to pursue quiet recreation and is prime wildlife habitat.  The noise from operations in the quarry can be heard from throughout the park and negatively effects the many people that go there.  


Transferring the Comsat quarry to the DOT (#ADL 215567, ILMA to DOT to operate a quarry) with plans to mine rock and extract gravel for decades will turn the site into a major industrial operation that will have huge detrimental impacts to the Christianson Lake area residents, to those recreating at Talkeetna Lakes Park and all those that drive the Comsat Road and Talkeetna Spur Road due to noise, the dangers of truck traffic, dust and road bed damage.  How the operation would affect the water table and resident wells and the many lakes in the area is of particular concern.  


The Comsat quarry site is adjacent to private property where there are private residential homes, undeveloped private property and public lands of the Talkeetna Lakes Park that are coveted for nonmotorized recreational activities.  Noise knows no boundaries and the noise associated with operating a quarry will affect the overall health of area residents and enjoyment of the Talkeetna Lakes Park that was designated nonmotorized to allow for a place for residents and tourists to recreate in a quieter setting.  Tourism is the economic driving force in Talkeetna and protecting the assets such as peaceful trails to walk and bicycle and lakes to paddle on is important.  The noise produced by a rock quarry operation will diminish the quality of life at homes in the area and on the trails and lakes.


For the reasons stated above we ask that a Conditional Use Permit with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough be required to extract rock from the quarry or gravel from the area.  The public must be given the opportunity to comment on how a quarry operation would be regulated. The materials site is next to residential areas and a much enjoyed area park.  There needs to be regulations and enforcement in place that will protect the health, safety and enjoyment of people living, commuting and recreating in the area if any quarry activity takes place.


There should not be a quarry at the Comsat site.  The area has grown into a residential and recreational area where an industrial operation like a quarry should not be allowed.  It is poor and insensitive land management to place a quarry next to residential homes and a non- motorized recreational park.  Operating a quarry will negatively impact the quality of life, recreational activities and land values for decades to come. The state land being proposed to be redesignated as a 113 acre Materials Site should be classified as Public Recreation-Dispersed, and Habitat including the land to the east of Kirby Creek. 


Sincerely,

Brian and Diane Okonek


Cc:

DNR Commissioner Ms. Corri Feige, corri.feige@alaska.gov

MSB Assembly Member Tam Boeve, Tamboevedistrict7@gmail.com

Marty.parsons@alaska.gov

Monica.alvarez@alaska.gov

Tmeacham@gci.net

Mike.brown@matsugov.us

Alex.strawn@matsugov.us 

contact@talkeetnacouncil.org



 September 30, 2021


Corri Feige, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Office of the Commissioner

550 W. 7th Ave #1400 

Anchorage AK 99501


Dear Commissioner Feige:


Re:     RECONSIDERATION REQUEST of DETERMINATION OF PLAN DESIGNATION AND    LAND CLASSIFICATION FOR STATE LANDS IN THE SUSITNA-MATANUSKA-AREA PLAN- Comsat Rd. T26N R4W Sec 32 NE ¼


Summary of Reconsideration Comments


1. Flawed Public Process

2. The Unsuitable Material Site Designation is incompatible with 4 Mat Su Borough and 2 state land management plans

3. Misleading, Exaggerated, and Inaccurate statements of Historical Use of the quarry and its Significance 

4. Inadequate and Inaccurate Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Populations and Cultural Resources


I ask the Commissioner of ADNR to reconsider the 9/12/21 Determination of Plan Designation and Land Classification for State Lands in the Susitna-Area Plan (SMAP). This 154 acre parcel has been nominated by the Comsat Area Lakes and Land Alliance (CALLA) for classification as Habitat and Public Recreation-Dispersed. The SMAP Resource Allocation Table must be amended to designate this land Ha-Habitat and Rd-Public Recreation dispersed with a co-classification of Wildlife Habitat Lands under 11AAC55.230 and Public Recreation Land under 11AAC55.160. These designations/co-classification are suitable. Material Site classification is unsuitable according to Alaska Statutes and land use planning statutes. DMLW gave no reasons why CALLA’s designation/classification is unsuitable. That is necessary. Cumulative impacts of the status quo classification need to be considered by DMLW.


1.0 Flawed Public Process


1.1 The CALLA proposal is not being given due process under Alaska Statutes. The DMLW essentially ignored it. No case number was assigned to this proposal. A cavalier attitude seems to have set in. There are compliance regulations that mandate that the state process the CALLA proposal.


1.2 The 9/10/21 Denial Determination was not put out for public comment. As the Mat Su Borough lawyer has noted in his 9/24/21 appeal, the lack of public notice goes against state statute. Thus, the Determination should be remanded back to the Division. 

Because of lack of public notice, the public can add appeal documents up to 20 days following the appeal deadline. I did not receive a copy of the Determination until 9/29, a day after the deadline. I receive every day in my email the Alaska online public notices. It was not in any notice.


1.3 Why the big hurry to shortcut the public process? 

The Alaska Department of Law assured CALLA counsel in an 8/12/21 letter that there is no upcoming 2021 material site application. So there will be no material extraction in the near future. So CALLA should not worry. So why is ADNR/DMLW in such a hurry? You are cramming the CALLA proposal for classification process with its required timeline for reconsideration and court appeal with an entirely new ADL reclassification and commencement of an ILMA with ADOT. And at the same time, DNR appeals the MSB Conditional Use Permit requirement for the quarry site. Your agency is inundating the public with paperwork processes on purpose it would seem. This means the public cannot do due diligence about this public resource... DMLW must finish the CALLA classification proposal process before the new ADL Predetermination. 


1.4 With this rushed timeline, somehow DMLW did not put the proposal out for state and federal agency comment. This needs to be done. The public has a right to hear for example what the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have to say about the CALLA proposal. 


1.5 So much of the ADNR premise for this material site classification was and is the 2012 Omnibus Decision which is the Final Finding and Decision Regarding Interim Material Sites Designations under AS 38.05.550(b). The Comsat parcel was listed in their attachment of sites. It should NOT have been a part of this Omnibus Decision because it did not and does not fulfill the 3 conditions/criteria for inclusion in this decision. The page 1 Decision conditions that the site must fulfill are:

  • A material site sale decision on or a sale contract since January 1,200 through 2012 when this was signed.
  • In place a valid existing authorization allowing another state or federal agency to use or manage a site as a material extraction source, or
  • In place a valid existing authorization allowing a state, federal or political subdivision to use the site as a material extraction source under AS 38.05.810(a).

These 3 conditions cannot be applied to the Comsat Rd. Quarry


1.6 Six state statutes have been violated regarding this state land. The CALLA classification proposal documents this. State land use planning statues AS 38.04.005(a) through (e) and (h) need to be carried out. DMLW needs to rectify this. 


1.7 This site does not conform to the definition of an “established site” under 11 AAC 55.040(i)(5).This site was not used in any way as a legal material site from 1995 to 2017.


2.0 The unsuitable Material Site Classification/Designation is incompatible with 4 MSB plans and 2 state plans.

All adjacent lands to the north, west and south of the parcel are subject to management intent and guidelines of 5 plans. And the Comsat parcel is within the boundaries of 3 of these plans. Each of these plans would not allow a rock quarry/material site designation to occur. The community spent hundreds of hours participating in the public process to make these plans. Does that not make a difference? Wildlife habitat and public recreation land co-classification would be in suitable compliance with these plans.


2.1 MSB Talkeetna Comprehensive Plan (TCP)-Comsat Parcel is within the plan boundaries

The existence of a rock quarry conflicts with 8 major MSB code requirements in 15.24.030. It conflicts with 10 of the overall goals regarding Land Use, Community Development, Historic Resources, and Transportation and Public Facilities and Services. It conflicts with 3 other sub-goals of industrial use, transportation and park resources.


2.2 MSB Christiansen Lake Lake Management Plan which is adjacent to the Comsat parcel.

 This plan specifically addresses residential and community concerns for the lake and upland watershed habitat. This plan is an instrument of borough policy. Quarry existence conflicts with the primary goal which is to preserve the quiet characteristics of the environment, protecting water and wildlife by reducing noise and pollutants. The existence of an industrial material site conflicts with the set of management guidelines to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and to protect the lake’s environment and wildlife.


2.3 MSB Talkeetna Special Land Use District, Christiansen Lake Land Use District. The Comsat parcel is adjacent to this in its north and west borders. 

The quarry goes against at least 3 purposes and goes against the prohibition of industrial use.


2.4 MSB Talkeetna Lakes Park Management Plan-Comsat parcel adjacent to this park. 

Misinformation is contained in this plan regarding the Comsat site. Specifically, the plan inaccurately says ADOT owned the site and that it is an active site. Both of those assumptions were false. 

The quarry existence conflicts with the main Park Plan goal TO MAINTAIN EXISTING, LARGELY NATURAL AND UNDEVELOPED CHARACTER OF THE AREA. It also is a physical threat to Park visitors traveling the Comsat Road. The catalogued anadromous waterway of Kirby Creek is part of the Fish Lake watershed that encompasses the Talkeetna Lakes Park. This is a significant resource unacknowledged by DMLW.


2.5 Alaska State Susitna Area Plan (SAP)/Susitna Matanuska Area Plan (SMAP) - the parcel is within these plan borders. SMAP is the update of the older SAP. Residents of the community participated in both plan processes.

Both of these state land management plans do NOT classify the parcel as state land nor a Materials Site Designation. This land was NOT known as state public land during the whole public process so that it did not receive public perusal and comment. The quarry existence goes against the Goals of Material Sites. Specifically on pages 2-28 and 2-29 of SMAP. 

  • AVOIDANCE OR MINIMIZATION OF IMPACTS,
  • MAINTAINING OTHER USES AND RESOURCES WHEN SITING, OPERATING OR CLOSING MATERIAL SITES, PROTECTION AREA ADJACENT TO ANADROMOUS WATERBODIES, 
  • COORDINATION WITH MSB.


3.0 Misleading, Exaggerated, and Inaccurate Statements of the Parcel’s Historical Use and Significance as a Quarry Site

Page 2 of the CALLA Denial Determination by DMLW states that a Comsat Quarry has been identified as an important area for material with a documented history going back as far as 1979. This is totally inaccurate. The true reality is the opposite of that statement. Both CALLA and the Talkeetna Community Council Inc. (TCCI) Comsat Rd. Quarry Subcommittee have not found any documents that show it was a legally defined material site from 1995 to 2017. 

From 1979 until today in 2021, a span of 42 years, the site was not associated with any critical projects. During that same period, there was significant community growth of roads, water and sewer systems, and construction. But there was no use of Comsat material documented. ADOT inaccurately stated that there was stockpiles on sight in 1995. In the past, ADOT did apply for an ILMA but never completed it. There was one 1988 ADOT application for material but they never used it because the rock was too small.


4.0 Inadequate Determination Data regarding Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Populations and Cultural Resources

The Determination downplays the Habitat Resources of this area. This parcel is in the South Parks Highway Region of SMAP. SMAP states that this area has experienced considerable growth over the last 25 years which means 35 years or more in our current real time. Thus, the Habitat and Public Recreation Classification is even more important than it ever was as public land is being developed. 

Page 3-26 states, “The region receives a high level of recreation use. Streams in the region are important producers of salmon for the Cook Inlet commercial fishery and also support high levels of sport fishing.”


 This unit contains significant fish and wildlife populations and habitat which local knowledge has proven. Kirby Creek has coho rearing and overwintering which is an important ecosystem service for Kirby Creek/Fish Lake watershed. Trout are present. DNR incorrectly states this is minimal significance.  

The Kirby Creek watershed provides upland habitat connectivity that allows wildlife movement parallel to creeks between Bartlett Hills and the Susitna River. Indeed the wildlife habitat migration corridors should not be fragmented by an industrial use of the site. Such corridors are needed to avoid wildlife and human use conflicts in a growing region. Significant trumpeter swans and other waterfowl population nest and molt in the area. Bears frequent the area along with the area being a moose wintering and calving area. 

The Talkeetna Comprehensive Plan called this parcel an outstanding natural area with high recreational and scenic value.


There has never been a cultural resource survey of this parcel. This needs to be done before any material site classification is considered.

 The State Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) reviewed the Alaska Heritage Resources Survey database. They found there are numerous sites near this parcel. But they state the project area has not previously been surveyed for cultural resources. OHA strongly recommends an archeological survey be conducted prior to issuance of the decision document for material site classification and the ILMA.


The Chickaloon Village Traditional Council in a 9/23/21 letter to DMLW recommends:

  • Pedestrian archaeological survey with subsurface testing within the remaining undisturbed ground within the Area of Potential Effects
  • Chickaloon Village Traditional Council cultural resource monitors be invited and included in any cultural resource fieldwork and meetings for this undertaking.



In summary, the 9/10/21 Determination is incomplete and inadequate as a response to CALLA’s request for classification. The decision needs to be reconsidered with more depth to the natural resources of the area along with cumulative impacts from a material site classification.



Becky Long 

PO Box 1088, Talkeetna AK 99676


I am a member of CALLA, the TCCI Comsat Rd. Quarry Subcommittee, the Talkeetna and Chase Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee, and participated in the SAP/SMAP plan public processes.


          Committee Members:                 

                Dan Adamson

                Jill Adamson

                Howard Carbone

                Michael Cozad

                Rebecca Cozad

                Sue Deyoe

                Eric Hestnes

                Sonja Hestnes

                Becky Long

                Diana Shear

                Rick Shear

                John Strasenburgh 

                Kathy Trump: Chair  email: kathy@talkeetnacouncil.org

                Whitney Wolff

                Ruth Wood 


 The next meeting will be Monday October 18, 2021 11:30 AM via Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85094063211?pwd=R1ZiSXg1YytLcUlOaW5qYjBveFVRUT09

Meeting ID: 850 9406 3211
Passcode: 361255

Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:44 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:44 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:44 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:45 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:45 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:45 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:45 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:03 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 12, 2021, 11:45 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:03 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:04 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:04 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:04 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jan 29, 2021, 2:04 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Mar 20, 2021, 12:00 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Feb 12, 2021, 1:44 PM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Mar 20, 2021, 12:07 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jun 4, 2021, 1:15 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jun 4, 2021, 1:09 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jun 4, 2021, 12:20 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jun 4, 2021, 12:20 AM
Ċ
TCCI - contact,
Jul 2, 2021, 1:25 AM
Comments