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Discussion Starter #1
Understand DNR is going to start enforcing the 1500 lb weight limit on the Rex Trail next year. I've heard the miners complaining about how DNR makes them put up a bond before they can run their rigs on the trail. Then they are not allowed to run the trail till after freeze-up. Have heard many of the Homesteaders complaining also, they use that trail for access to their property. But during the last week of August and then till freeze-up the trail is impassable for them as well. It's really going to up set a lot of people that they will no longer have access there, as well as the many other places they have been restricted from.
 

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This was bound to happen. The BOG made some restrictions on subsistence vehicle use last time through. As people have been now able to afford half-tracks and APC's for accessing lands, trails and the terrain are being permanently destroyed.

I would expect more restrictions to happen in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Discussed it Wednesday night at the Advisory committee meeting. Seems some guys in tired rigs were going everywhere off the trail. Onto the army land, out to the Air Force gunnery range at Blair lakes. And making new trails everywhere. DNR lands office was not happy. With those restrictions I expect to see very few people on the Rex next year. Then after a few years of quite the Moose will move back in.
 

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I certainly believe it. There is a rig in town here with 48" tires. He places 2 - ATV's on a rack on the back, about 6 feet off the ground. It is ridiculous. Some areas of the state will never recover from the tracks left from these rigs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Dave: The guys that camp about a mile from our cabin are from Valdez. The rig has a wooden cab, and big tires about 4.5 to 5 ft tall with huge deep lugs. Last time I saw it, the rig was painted black.
 

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Daveinthebush said:
As people have been now able to afford half-tracks and APC's for accessing lands, trails and the terrain are being permanently destroyed.

I would expect more restrictions to happen in the future.

For the sake of discussion only:

Is the terrain really being permanently destroyed, or just altered? If destroyed...would that also mean that nothing could ever grow in that spot. If altered...could that possibly mean that something more beneficial could possible benefit local wildlife to the positive?


What could more restriction mean for those that actually live in the area? No access to they homes?



As an individual that has 4-wheel drive Jeep and a 4-wheeler, I use the 'thread lightly' method. Not the tear the crap out of the wilderness method....just no need in it. At least not to me, as there are places that people can go and tear up all they want....

Where exactly is this "Rex Trail" located?





Scott (interesting topic) B
 

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Depends on the area. The trail in question is just North East of Denali Park. In some areas with the tundra, a AVT will leave ruts that will not go away. Even on the north slope, where oil exploration vehicles have crossed, the tracks are still there. The top layer of the topsoil up here is very shallow. Once disturbed, the layer washes away and it takes forever for plants to grow back. In the L48, grasses might grow, but there are few grasses in the boggy areas. Lichen and moss are the base layers here.

The permafrost is a another story. The damage to that, the thawing, emits gasses to the atmosphere that increase global warming. I am not a scientist so just doing a lay-mans explanation here.

It is the same old story. Everyone thinks bigger is better. Farther in the bush is better. So People want bigger rigs to cross bigger rivers, ride over more obstacles and the land here can't handle it.
 

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The biggest problem with the rigs is that when they do break up the top soil.. they opening it up for erosion. The mosses and lichens allow water to pass through them and shed normal, while also protecting the dirt. When the "surface tension" is broken this allows the water to take the dirt from below.

So just the tire marks aren't too bad, but water flow can make it worse pretty quick. There is the old highway down here, and it isnt really used much now, cause it's just a back road.. .mostly used to hunt grouse, and a few people live off of one part of it by coopers landing, but when you look at it, it has been really deteriorated because of water which was channeled because of the ruts.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
sdb777: I live close to the Rex, and have use it for 37 years. I'll give you a little history that I've been told by the folks that live and work there. It was originally a winter sled trail used during the gold rush. A part of the trail system going from Black Rapids all the way to the Lake Menchuminia area. It saw a lot of use during the heavy gold mining of the 1920s thru 50s. Seeing the use of tracked vehicles starting with Dozers, then Nodwells, and Bombadiers. They broke the top tundra covering and let the permafrost melt. Turning the trail to soup in some areas. Then over the decades the mud washed out leaving hard trail and big holes holding water about 2 foot deep with frozen bottoms. No one ran the trail after spring thaw till hunting season. The trail was an eyesore, a scar upon the land, but it at least was stable, and provided transportation. As for the Nodwells, traveling at five miles per hour, tracks 4ft wide, crawling across the mud, and only leaving cleat marks. In the 80s people started using 3 and 4 wheelers. On the good hard parts of the trail they ran along pretty fast, 25 to 30 mph. When they came to the holes, they went a lot slower. They could not push through 2 feet of water fast enough to throw water out of the hole. When the wheelers came to wet mud they would make shallow ruts, but then here would come the Nodwells flattening out the ruts and letting the mud dry. For 30 years a happy co-existence and I saw no significant change in the trail.

Then in about 1999 or 2000, restrictions were placed on unit 13, and on the Keni. People from down that way started showing up on the Rex with large tired rigs. The first tired rig I saw was an old Osh-Gosh snow plow truck, that had been stripped down to nothing but the frame and cab, then a camper set on the back. This rig had the original snowplow tires with chains all the way around. Talk about a heavy rig, and those chains were tearing up the hard surface so bad that come the least little rain it turned to soup, where it would normally drain and stay hard. Other rigs were converted military trucks, or commercial trucks stripped down. Most people used chains that tore up everything, especially the mud areas, turning them to soup. After a few of these rigs passed the trail became impassable for 4-wheelers. The holes that had hard frozen bottoms started getting deeper, with deep mud on the bottom. So to get through the big heavy rigs would hit the holes going faster. They would throw a wave of mud and water 10 to 15 feet back into the woods on each side of the trail. By the end of the hunting season the holes were considerably deeper each year. In 2003 I started crossing a hole with a 4 wheeler that for 30 years had only been 2 ft deep. Suddenly I fell over a bank and went in over 6ft.

Then F&G started the Cow Moose hunts. The number of tired rigs running the trail rapidly increased. The type of rigs also started changing. Now we were also seeing lighter type rigs with large cleated tires. The type of rigs, and the same rigs, you saw at the mud bog racing. These rigs ran much faster than the older heavier rigs. In fact one guy bragged about how he hauled two Moose from Gold King, to the highway and passed to his wife. Then drove to Nenana for lunch. Then back to Clear, refueled the rig, then back to Gold King in time for dinner at camp. He was making the 40 mile trip in 3 hours. 80 mile round trip 6 hours travel time. Each year since then the trail has progressively gotten worse. The water holes deeper and longer. The mud areas soft and soupy. The hard areas chewed up, rutted, and often wet and muddy as well. In the boggy areas the Nodwells would crawl over leaving only cleat marks, the tired rigs would tear up so bad they could not get through. So they would nake new trails around the holes they had created. In one area the new trails spread out over a half mile from the original trail on each side, knocking down trees, and tearing up the Tundra. These new trails have torn off the insulating layer of Tundra, allowing the permafrost to melt, making wet soupy quagmires everywhere.

These same rigs continue to run the trail during the freeze thaw time of freeze up. They brake through the ice on the holes and rivers, causing big slabs of ice to stand on end, and refreeze. This makes the trail hard to negotiate for snow machines, till sufficient snow falls to cover the rough ice, or one of the local miners grooms the trail. One of the conditions of his permit from DNR to use the trail, is that he will groom the trail for snow machines use after he hauls in or out any equipment. These tired rigs don't have any permits.
 

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For a fellow who hasn't even seen snow here in the last five or more years what is a Nodwell?
 

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Winter said:
Holy Crud! Those things are used to pack snow at the ski areas.

Thanks for the history of your area SourDough! I've seen 'marked' off-road trails down here moved left and right to get around those huge holes. Some just don't get it....a trail is a trail, and the woods are the woods.

Hopefully, some will learn to respect the trail you speak of......before you loose it completely.



Scott (looking on Google Earth now) B
 

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Track rigs definitely arent the problem, because they are made to crawl over whatever obstacles they come to, that is why they have very light tread in consideration to how big the tracks are. The new trucks that you see on the trails have huge nobs on their tires, meant to penetrate the soil, and dig down to where there is hard soil to grab onto... which lets the water penetrate down farther, and the hard soil down even farther.... thus making a circle of hole digging... I guess... If you find your self in a hole... dig faster?? Well, that is what most people seem to think lately.
 

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Let me ask a question, for clarification.
Is the Rex trail a road or a trail? Do folks live off this trail or does it traverse from one populated region thru an unpopulated area too another populated region?
I guess my thinking goes back to something I can relate too--a logging road.
If it is a road that is needed why is it not made a road, and, maintained?
If it is not wanted as a road why not do what is necessary to close it?
I am trying too understand--not argue. It is tough for a city feller to understand.
Blessings
 

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Discussion Starter #16
AKPLS: The first tired rig I saw on the Rex was a Rollagon. They were digging the bottom up in every mud hole. They would pull off into a mud hole and start spinning the tires. After it dug down about a foot it hit hard bottom and started moving. After they went through a mud hole the bottom was so chewed up a 4-wheeler could no longer go through that hole.

williamlayton: The Rex trail is an old mining trail. There is active gold mines out the trail, also some homesteaders live out that trail. The miners only use the trail during the winter, after it is frozen. The people living out there use it year round with 4-wheelers during the summer, and snow machines during the winter. It is a winter trail that is being used all year.
 

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Sourdough said:
AKPLS: The first tired rig I saw on the Rex was a Rollagon. They were digging the bottom up in every mud hole. They would pull off into a mud hole and start spinning the tires. After it dug down about a foot it hit hard bottom and started moving. After they went through a mud hole the bottom was so chewed up a 4-wheeler could no longer go through that hole.
I always see it going up over Iowa Ridge where the trail is pretty hard, but never down through the boggy areas in the valley.......which is probably a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes, or driving around on the Tundra where there is no mud, that's what they were designed for. Keep it in the areas where it can have brush and plant growth as a base, and never go the same route twice. Those rigs were designed to go out onto the Tundra on the North Slope and pick up 55 gal drums and other debris left behind by the military over a forty year period. But when confronted with water and mud, the footprint is too light, and they just sit and spin.

Bye the way, my partner shot a Moose out on the Rex yesterday morning. I had the chance at five just after he shot his, but I passed. One Moose on the ground at a time is enough, especially for two old fat men.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Talked to a friend at DNR this weekend. She said next year anyone wanting to use a rig over 1500lbs will be required to get a permit. They will have to pay a fee, and post a bond. And depending on the rig, they may have to wait till after freeze up to operate on the trail. That also means that to go check out trap lines with the pickup next winter we will have to get a permit.
 
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