DNR implements closure of the Tanana Valley State Forest

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 10:14 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - For those in the logging trade or those that just like to run around on an ATV or dirt bike, land access to nearby areas will be a bit smaller for the time being.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) implemented a temporary closure to the Tanana Valley State Forest (TVSF) for motor vehicles on Wednesday, June 29 at 8 a.m.

This includes off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, industrial vehicles, logging equipment and other motorized equipment.

The main concern for the closure to motorized vehicles is because of the current high fire danger potential. The already dry conditions are prime for additional fires to start. There is no need to further strain our resources and fire fighters.

Kevin Meany, from the State of Alaska Division of Forestry says, “You know the idea being that they’re putting safety at the forefront here, our fire fighters are stretched pretty thin this year.”

Another concern includes the lack of visibility cause by the smoke in Interior Alaska which has already caused difficulties in monitoring existing fires. The lack of visibility also adds additional dangers to recreational users in the Tanana Valley State Forest.

Meany adds, “With the smoke being as thick as it is and our inability to detect any new fires and new starts, it could become a very dangerous situation quickly if somebody were to get cut off fire have their access cut off.”

Another problem DNR faces in the fight to prevent fires in the TVSF is access to the land with many areas having limited or no road access. With access to the State Forest being minimal in many areas, any vehicular traffic could quickly become an issue for fire fighters attempting to produce a rapid response to a blaze in the forest.

“Many of our roads into the state forest are one way in, one way out,” said Meany.

According to the DNR, the Tanana Valley State Forest is 1.81 million acres in size. The Tanana River flows 200 miles through the forest and almost 90 percent of the land is forested. 85 percent of the forest is within 20 miles of a state highway.

TVSF is also close proximity to numerous subdivisions and structures. Fire response to these areas are a high priority with any fires likely to be dealt with aggressively.

Access to the Tanana Valley State Forest will remain closed until further notice. DNR will check conditions daily in hopes of removing the closure as soon as safely possible.

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