DNR's approval decision
John Lang of Lang Enterprises, Anchorage has proposed a 2000 mile Jetski race from Whittier to Illiamna in 2013.
(Supporting information and comments to DNR at bottom of page)
Why is it being discussed now?
Lang has applied to the State DNR for a special land use permit to run the race on state waters and tidelands. You have probably seen the notice issued from the State DNR asking you for comments. The deadline has been extended to January 26 2012. Please make comments based on information provided here, your own research and experience.
Some specifics of the Wet Dog Jetski race:
Anticipated 500 teams of 2 (1000 jetskis)
Leave Whittier May 1, 2013
Race start at 6 AM. Racers depart at 2 minute intervals. 10 PM: last race team departs Whittier
Each operator of these thrill craft will pay an entry fee is projected to be between $20,000-35,000. If anticipated 1000 entrants pay fee, Lang Enterprises will receive $20-35 million dollars.
Why this is a bad idea:
Impact on non-jetski users. The only people who enjoy jetskis are the users. All others, especially nonmotorized users like kayakers (independent or guided) quietly camped on beaches along the route, but also every bow-picker, setnetter, drifter, tour boat, and recreational skiff will have to endure the whine and experiential disruption as 1000 jetskis pass by. In his supporting document Special Use Permit Request Proposal that describes the race in detail (though unbalanced) Lang does not address this conflict. Paying customers on cruise ships, tour boats will be negatively impacted. They pay and travel to Alaska to enjoy wild nature, not noise.
Impact on wildlife.This 2000 mile race will be run in a living environment with endangered species (Steller Sea lions, humpback and beluga whales), thousands of seals, otters, sea lions, dozens of species of marine birds, (some of which are threatened and in some areas still recovering from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill). There is no doubt that disturbance from jetskis will disrupt the natural habitats of wildlife, especially waterfowl. Jetskis are not benign. They are intentionally fast and able to operate in shallow, protected water.
Fuel use. Potentially the race will use 500,000 gallons of fuel and that does not include support vessels (of which 110 are anticipated). To Lang’s credit, he is considering fuel barges to supply the race at certain checkpoints.
Impact on uplands. Currently (December 2011), his permit application states that there will be no impact on uplands (mostly non-state owned) yet he provided reviewers of his permit application and racers themselves no explanation of where they are expected to sleep, rest, cook, and address bodily functions. While camping in Alaska requires certain adaptations, it is easily done with the proper training. Will the racers know how to practice low-impact camping including limited use of fires, toileting, tidal fluctuations, cooking precautions, and wildlife (especially bears) awareness precautions?
Water Pollution. While Jetskis using four cycle engines are much less polluting than their 2-cycle predecessors, they still burn and spill fuel.
Noise pollution. While Jetskis using four cycle engines are much less noisy than their 2-cycle predecessors, they still create an uneven grinding noise that is difficult for other users to ignore. This is a race; the machines will be going full out and the noise will disturb anyone, including wildlife, in the area.
Safety. Lang Enterprises recognizes the severity of the race and devotes a significant attention to the safety of the riders. While commendable, it's likely that some of the 1000 racers will encounter conditions for which they are unprepared or equipment malfunctions or forced weather delays on unwelcoming coastline. Since the race is being marketed worldwide, it may draw racers unfamiliar with the ruggedness of the Alaska coastline. It is likely that rescues will be called for putting a strain and additional risk upon responders including the US Coast Guard who at that time of year will be gearing for, and engaged in, the beginning of summer use.
Administrative burden. To assure adequate resource protection and permit compliance, wise land mangers (US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska State Troopers) will need to have staff and transportation (vessels and aircraft) assigned to the race to monitor for compliance and respond to fuel spills, violations and emergencies. Additional costs and difficulties are not justified by a thrill craft competitive recreational race. City and village health care centers and health aides may be asked to carry additional burden.
Community burden: Do villages desire an influx of 1000 riders plus support vessels and staff and media demanding services (food, lodging, fuel, medical and emergency services) that may be completely unavailable or in short supply? Do village residents want the disruption and international attention? Are 1000 jetskis relevant to their remote lifestyle?
Incompatible with wilderness, wild land and protected places. Part of the route passes through a USFS Wilderness Study Area (in Prince William Sound). Much of the rest passes through unofficial de facto wilderness and wild land. A race of 1000 jetskis is not compatible with Alaska’s pristine land and waters.
Untested. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources should not consider a five year permit for such an outrageous proposal.
Where will racers sleep, and cook and toilet?
If on uplands, which permits are required?
Who will monitor for compliance?
In Lang’s document Special Use Permit Request Proposal, he references “Section 3.21 Ops and Support Guidelines” to further explain post race clean up operations yet that section is not within the document and has not been provided to the affected public. Where is that document?
Should the thrills for a few trump the safety and environmental hazard for the majority?
Demand that the State of Alaska, Department of Natural resources deny the special land use permit application.
Thank DNR for their willingness to extend the permit application period and provide interested parties with additional information.
Refer to LAS 28297, The Alaskan Wet Dog Race Event.
Candy Snow, Natural Resource Specialist
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Division of Mining, Land and Water
550 W. 77th, Suite 900C
Anchorage, AK 99501-3577
Deadline is January 26, 2012.
Thanks for taking action!
Mark Luttrell, President
Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance
Seward, AK 99664
RBCA Action Alert Wet Dog Jetski Race (the above text and photos in PDF format)
John Lang's (race proposer) Special Use Permit Request Proposal (incomplete)
John Lang's (race proposer) DNR Land Use Permit Application (incomplete)
John Lang's Wet Dog Jetski Race website
Alaska Department of Natural Resources Application Review Notice
Comments to the State DNR so far (1/10/2012)
Chenega Corporation (main concern: absence of public facilities) letter to DNR 1/10/2012
Prince William SoundKeeper, comments 1/2/2012
Auklet Charter Services, Cordova, comments, 12/14/2011