Click the image of the proposed Alaska Long Trail to view an interactive map of the project.

With school out for summer, it’s nice to get a tasty treat to celebrate. My son bought a milk shake and was full after drinking three quarters of it. After my son threw his milk shake away, I told him that’s how much he’ll be receiving from his Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend – 25% goes to Alaskans and 75% goes to government spending.

“That’s not much money we’ll be receiving,” my son replied.

Will the Alaska Legislature be full after receiving 75% of our PFD or will lawmakers soon be thirsting for the entire “milkshake.”

Governor Hammond wanted Alaskans to receive the Permanent Fund Dividend to keep the Legislature in check, but also to compensate for the fact that we gave up our mineral rights to become a state in 1959.

Today, the price per barrel of Alaska oil is over $85 – the State of Alaska isn’t lacking funding.

In fact, sitting on Governor Dunleavy’s desk, waiting for his signature, is $3.7 million to fund the Alaska Long Trail. And the Alaska Legislature doesn’t have funding to give us a 50/50 PFD without, taxes?

The State of Alaska has already contributed $9 million to the Long Trail. This doesn’t include $13 million from the federal government and other local government contributions.

Why are we so focused on trail building, when we have a failing Port of Anchorage, which cannot withstand another earthquake? When a ship is one week late, our grocery shelves are empty. The Alaska State Legislature won’t fix the Port of Anchorage, which is a lifeline for Alaskans, but they have millions to give to a trail?

If the Long Trail becomes a federal scenic trail, we’ll lose our states’ rights on those lands.

Right now, the Bureau of Land Management has opened a public comment period on the Long Trail becoming a federal scenic trail. The deadline to comment is June 28. Here’s the link.

If the Long Trail becomes a federal scenic trail, we’ll lose our states’ rights on those lands, just like when President Jimmy Carter confiscated 54 million acres from Alaska to create eight National Parks back in 1980.

Then there are groups like Sierra Club that want the Long Trail extended from Seward to the Arctic Circle, which would surpass the original route from Seward to Fairbanks.

I’m deeply concerned for the Alaska villagers who use the Historical Iditarod Trail as a form of transportation – hauling food and other supplies from village to village with a snowmobile, four-wheeler or motorized boat. The purposed plan is to put the Long Trail onto the Historical Iditarod Trail, which will give 100% authority to the federal government.

Once the Historical Iditarod Trail becomes a federal scenic trail, it will be illegal to use anything motorized on those pathways.

Remember when the federal government promised us that we would be able to continue to mineral develop our lands and hunt, but then removed mineral development from Alaska National Parks. Once the Historical Iditarod Trail becomes a federal scenic trail, it will be illegal to use anything motorized on those pathways.

Alaska tribes were granted land back in the 1970s, now Long Trail supporters want to take tribal land for their trail. Supporters will tell you that they have the right because of a public access easement, but hasn’t the government taken enough land from our tribes?

Consider that the Long Trail would be inviting the world to hike this path with many travelers unaware of Alaska’s harsh weather environment. Just this last winter we had 40 below zero Fahrenheit, to 40 above and back to 40 below – all within weeks. Three weeks ago, I was at a track meet, it was overcast, the wind started to blow, then it rained, and then finally turned to snow; the temperature dropped 10 degrees in one hour.

We also have giardiasis in our streams, a parasitic disease that makes people sick for weeks. How many travelers will be ignorant when it comes to creek drinking? Then, there’s the garbage and feces left behind, and the need to rescue hikers from bear mauling’s or moose encounters.

Alaska has limited resources, and this trail will take emergency resources from residents to rescue hikers.

Please act today, and comment on the Long Trail becoming a federal scenic trail. Contact your Alaska State Legislature, as well, and ask how it is that they have enough money to fund the Long Trail, but not a full PFD. How come they don’t repair the Port of Anchorage which supplies our food and fuel, and how are they going to stop the Long Trail from becoming a federal scenic trail?

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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OPINION: Alaska Long Trail raises concerns over land rights, federal control, state priorities

Esther Huddleston
Esther Huddleston is a lifelong Alaskan and resident of the Mat-Su Borough, where she is actively engaged in local politics. She raced the Jr. Iditarod, worked as an ironworker, farrier and blacksmith, and volunteers at school and church. She holds a bachelor's degree in Technology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.


  • Charles Sela says:

    sullivan letter to Denali Supt
    What was her redponsr
    seems likd a non biased investigation is needed

  • TrueIndependent says:

    Hope you and your son are pissed at republicans stealing your PFDs

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    It’s global warming don’t you know that by now, we All have to walk.
    No planes, cars or trains, what is this state coming to. We can’t drill for oil, mine for minerals, or cut down tree.

  • Kasey says:

    Hits closer to home! One of the spurs off this trail is a 4 mile leg to a sparsely used trailhead. Outside of a mountain race, the small parking lot is typically vacant, attracting a few more users on a sunny weekend. There’s nothing there by means of an attractive destination. If you want a view, you have to climb a steep trail a mile or two. It’s not like a “Butte” in Palmer. It’s not a “Flat Top” like Anchorage. Yet neighbors are alarmed that this 4 mile stretch may mean the gov’t doing a taking of private property to install the trail!

    • Reggie Taylor says:

      “…….the small parking lot is typically vacant, attracting a few more users on a sunny weekend………”
      Homeless RVs can be expected, unless the agency responsible for the parking lot enforce no camping rules. It has already been going on in the Valley at trailheads and Park and Rides. No good thing can proceed without a segment of society immediately trying to play it.

      • Kasey says:

        my point is…why is the gov’t paying extra big bucks and potentially acquiring private property to divert a trail to a zero destination?

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    The globalist plan is to have the minions build all of their recreational facilities and other niceties/necessities using our tax dollars. This way, when all of the minions have been wiped out except the few that will be slaves to the globalists, they’ll have all that they wanted built and won’t have had to pay a penny.

    • Jeff Butler says:

      F. JHCOAB! U R not well

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        (J)oint (H)ealth (C)are (O)f (A)merica (B)? What would the B stand for and why would you bring up joint health care of America as a response? That’s weird.

  • Reggie Taylor says:

    “………Will the Alaska Legislature be full after receiving 75% of our PFD or will lawmakers soon be thirsting for the entire “milkshake.”……….”
    If you hand out $5K dividends annually, and that gets celebrated in the legacy media, how many illegal migrants from such locales as Venezuela will show up for “theirs”? Communism/Socialism can be a very dangerous thing…… an astute Venezuelan might be able to attest………if he/she was smart/honest enough to realize……..which he/she obviously isn’t……..

  • Steve says:

    Off topic.
    Remember, Lisa Murkowski helped create the anti-Trump environment with her self serving impeachment vote. She is responsible, as others are, in destroying our country with her ‘Ranked Choice Voting’. Write her with a conservative concern and you’ll get a liberal response back. I think Lisa Murkowski is evil and corrupt to the core.

  • JR says:

    Lisa Murkowski is disgusting. Where is the money for the homeless? Where is she fighting for our constitutional rights. She isn’t. No, she is out there trying to take more of Alaska for the feds. We must get rid of ranked choice voting in order to get her and Dan and Mary out of office. I doubt she swore to uphold The Constitution of the US and if she did, she lied or has never read The Constitution. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Dunleavy the voice that whimpers in the shadows!