Lawmakers seek middle ground on snowmachine access

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

JUNEAU - A House subcommittee to meet Wednesday will seek middle ground on a proposal to open roughly 4,000 square miles of public land to snowmachining.

A bill by Fairbanks Republican Rep. Mike Kelly would lift a snowmachine ban seven months of the year on land centered on the Dalton Highway. The highway runs 414 miles from interior Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. Other off-road vehicles would remain banned year-round.

Rep. Peggy Wilson, a Republican from Wrangell, says it's an emotional issue. About 40 people signed up to testify during the bill's second public hearing Tuesday in her House Transportation Committee. Three-quarters of those able to speak before the committee ran out of time opposed the measure, citing safety and environmental concerns.

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