Friday, February 6, 2009

Is the Copper River Country Map a Public or Private venture?

Since I first settled in this area in the fall of 2006, I've been loosely watching to see how the communitarians would implement the requirements in UN Local Agenda 21 that member states produce GIS mapping databases in every home region. In Seattle it was called the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan adopted into municipal law in 1999. In the Municipality of Anchorage it's called Anchorage 2020. But out here, much to my delight and total suprise, there is no municipal or borough government, and consequently, there was no avenue for LA21 planning that I could find.

Part of my rental agreement with the property owner here is to market and manage his hostel, campground and RV park. During some preliminary research I found the State of Alaska Dept of Tourism plans to divert a substantial portion of the Denali Park visitors to the Wrangell St. Elias Park. As our business is on the western highway leading into the Wrangell Mountains, I naturally assumed we were in a good location.

A couple weeks ago, one of my neighbors asked me to attend our local community league meeting because of recent issues surrounding use and control of our community well. Before I went, I did some online research to see if the DHS had published anything regarding their participation in these water use developments. Along the way, I found documents pertaining to a new local tourism mapping project. Much to my dismay, the public meeting for the mapping project was 36 slick road miles away, and it had started 2 hours prior to the meeting I was on my way to attending.

As I am inclined to agree that a map of our area would be a great boost to promoting and marketing our area to Alaskan visitors, I emailed the workgroup and asked to join. They responded by sending me a draft of the latest information about the project. I then posted a portion of the draft at the Kenny Lake Community Blog for public comment (which has no readers that I'm aware of).

Today, after a leading BLM mapping group member received a "google alert" that they were listed as the contact at the bottom of that post, a different group leader asked me to take it down and to put up an outdated, polished memo in its place.
Hello Niki-

You may have noticed the email from Marnie @ BLM regarding the communications plan that I believe you might have posted on the Kenny lake community blog (based on my preliminary detective work of your blog site!). Anyways, she'll email the listserv again with a little more explanation about why she was thrown off by seeing a draft on the blog--mainly it's because it's a draft, and she doesn't want to put anyone off by having an incorrect name, spelling, etc. in the draft document that could tarnish people's opinions/attitudes about the document.

I have attached the project scope that might be a better document to post--it has been approved by group members, and while it might be a little dated since we've had a workshop already, it provides an overview of the project and contact information for people to use if they have questions/comments/etc. After our next workshop, which is yet to be set (maybe the week of March 23rd?), we will have more project-related documents that can be posted--until the group signs off on something, though, we are going to be a little more timid about how documents are used.

Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions--or point me in the direction of the best person to talk to if you are no longer the contact for the Kenny lake Community blog.



Kate Alexander | Project and Membership Coordinator
Copper River Watershed Project
phone (907)424-3334 | fax (907)424-4318
office P.O. Box 1560, Cordova, AK 99574

Here's my response to that:
Dear Kate,

I can appreciate your group concerns regarding my posting of a portion of the Copper River Country Map draft (and related Jan 9 workshop) at the Kenny Lake Community blogspot. As your "detective work" of my blogs will quickly lead you to my political research site, I think by now your group is perfectly aware of my intent in posting your draft.

As a firm believer in transparency in American government and the laws which govern the actions of American public servants, it is my responsibility as a concerned community member and "local stakeholder" to report all the facts involved in your proposed action plan.

Any proposed land based action plan and ensuing GIS map that will affect the future sustainability of local businesses and property owners in my resident community, especially plans that are federally grant funded and/or required to enlist "public input" and discourse, must be made available to the public who will be directly affected by that plan. The general misconception by public servants (such as your
group) is that their internal meeting documents and their personal emails and notes concerning public land management plans are somehow to be shielded from the eyes of the public whom they claim to represent.

The draft of your meeting that I posted on the Kenny Lake Community blogspot includes several references to your mandate for enlisting public input, including this:

"Participants agreed that the development of a mapguide for Copper River Country will continue to move forward as an open process and participants can continue to join as work moves forward. The group will continue to be active in reaching out to stakeholder groups throughout the region and hope future workshops will engage more
participants to work on this project. "

One would naturally assume that you would be happy to see I am assisting in your efforts to engage more participants. No doubt you are all very busy with your well-paying jobs that support your efforts in my community, which could have explained why you are not posting these drafts yourselves. As a local unpaid volunteer on this tourist mapping project, I am flabbergasted that you have asked me to do more volunteer work to satisfy your personal concerns about my public
publishing of public documents your workgroup is producing.

I can see I have a lot of homework ahead of me in order to completely understand the goals and vision of the Copper River Country Mapping group.

Kate, your CR Watershed site also claims your Partners seek "input" on the proposed map:

Under Programs, your site references another plan which may have relevance to our countrywide mapping project:

"The Cordova City Council adopted a community-based tourism plan in October, 2002."

Now I haven't found all your funding sources yet, but because your group includes BLM, a federal government agency, you are required to comply with the FOIA of 1974.

I would like to review and copy the 2002 Cordova community-based tourism plan. Please direct me to the appropriate office where I may gain access to the final matrix adopted into law by the Cordova City Council, and dates, times, and records of every community meeting held prior to the adoption of the Cordova plan. I will email them a separate, formal request.

Other documents and funding sources and information I am now pursuing are found here:,
and here:

including, but not limited to:

Copper River Delta Coalition and the National Wildlife Federation, 2000

Prince William Sound Copper River North Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem

Prince William Sound Science Center, US Forrest Service Copper River Delta Institute, Conservation International, Ecotrust, 1992

Economic History and Outlook, City of Cordova, City of Cordova, Planning Department 1999

Gulkana Plan Revision, AK-050-EA-03-001, BLM, Glennallen Field Office, December 2003

Cordova Community Tourism Plan: Actions and strategies for positive tourism growth in Cordova and the lower Copper River watershed, C. Beck and Associates. Cordova Chamber of Commerce, 2003

The Economic Value of Alaska's Copper River Personal Use and Subsistence Fisheries
M. Henderson, K. Criddle and S. Lee. Alaska Fishery Research Bulletin, 2002

Environmental Impact Statement & Revised Land and Resource Management Plan
Alaska Region Chugach National Forest, May 2002,

In addition, the Department of Community and Economic Development Community Grants Database, State of Alaska, October 2004, (more info here: suggests the Copper River Watershed Project received State funding under Alaska Salmon Marketing grants in 2004. Please direct me to the City of
Cordova accountant or agency officer who has a file of the original grant(s) application(s) and which agency(s) processed and distributed this funding.

Lastly, some of your partners include:

Please direct me to the full history of ecotrust's founding. I'm curious how you came to be affiliated with them, since I'm still a bit confused about your position in this country map project. Are you on the public payroll? Do you receive any type of recorded payments for your participation from any source other than the US/AK government, or, like me, are you just another unpaid community citizen volunteer? Do you own a business in our country?

Thank you so much for your fast response to my post at the Kenny Lake Community blog. Obviously I have no intentions of removing my post as per your request. I can assure you however, that I will be posting a lot more about this map project and any related projects in the future. I consider full public disclosure of these plans to be vitally necessary to ensuring broad public input into the visioning leading to the final drafts and their legal implementation.

None of my neighbors in Kenny Lake were even aware that you were making this map. Where did you advertise? The Kenny Lake Community League held a meeting in Kenny Lake the same night you invited the public to comment on the plan in Tazlina. This mapping project was not on the agenda for our community meeting, nor were the local attendees encouraged to attend the map workshop scheduled the next day. When I asked about the map at the end of the Community meeting, Mrs Wellman, co-owner of Wellwood Center, said the CR mapping project had nothing to do with the Kenny Lake Community League.

Besides the Wellwood Center, is there any another business or organization in Kenny Lake represented in these workshops? Where are our local planning/input meetings held?

Please continue to keep me updated with the groups' progress (your promise to be more "timid" about exposing these drafts to me in the future is illegal), and if you would be so kind, cc this email to your group. My allotted volunteer time to this grant funded mapping project has already exceeded its limits. As you are well aware, now is when local businesses, such as the one I work for, must focus all their energy on ways to attract next season's tourists. The biggest challenge we face is making our presence here known. There are many ways to achieve this, including maps like these:

Another portion of the draft I have, which was not originally posted at the KLC blog, says:

"The group was largely in agreement that this map will not promote specific businesses."

and further down in that section it restates the group's goal of excluding tourism businesses:

"Note: Again, the group does NOT want to promote specific business on this map, but can provide ideas on where to access information about specific businesses (Chamber of Commerce, etc.)" {Kate, I'm not sure how much you know about Kenny Lake, but I can assure you, there is no Chamber of Commerce here.}

I'd really be interested in hearing your group's rationale for not putting local businesses on a tax funded, local map that claims to promote local tourism. I can make time for that.

Niki Raapana, Manager
Camp Redington
7.5 mile Edgerton Highway
Kenny Lake, Alaska


Sean said...

It is quite nice, before work, to read about a common sense american woman who is doing somthing about the beuracratic shinola in interior alaska.

...after all. It is likely the last refuge of "freedom" we have.

I look forward to more updates on this! It is like a live boxing match.

Gisela said...

Way to go Niki, Geez I need to learn to write like you. I just loved your response, P.S. is the pop corn ready. LOL

Lark said...

So does this mean the gloves are off?

Good for you, Niki! I hope your letter will bear some fruit; but I doubt it.

From what I have gathered so far, the communitarian fascists don't actually care what the 'little people' think about their backroom dealings.

The little people have go through all those communitarian communists (the lowly bureaucrats)...

... So the 'fascisti' (the 'elite' capitalist pirates) can happily perform their 'dirty work' in private - isn't this a reasonably accurate description for how these 'lawful' shenanigans are designed?

Anonymous said...

Haha. Your detective work puts theirs to shame. They probably will wish they had just kept their mouths shut now.

Anonymous said...

You are remarkable. A hero. A true patriot.