courtesy photo                                State Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) listens to testimony in Juneau in this undated photo.

courtesy photo State Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) listens to testimony in Juneau in this undated photo.

Senator Micciche asks for clarification on Swan Lake Fire Management

In the wake of the Swan Lake Fire, Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Kenai/Soldotna) is requesting a frank discussion on wildlife management policies.

Micciche sent a letter Thursday addressed to Andy Loranger, manager of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Francisco Sanchez, Seward District Ranger for the Chugach National Forest, where he raised some concerns and asked for clarification about the management of the Swan Lake Fire this past summer.

In the letter, Micciche questioned the effectiveness of federal wildland policy, which allows fires to burn as long as there is no immediate threat to life and property.

“While this policy seems to make some sense when fires are in remote areas of federal land, it seems to be an imprudent policy when in close proximity to communities,” Micciche said in the letter. “In other words, not all wilderness is created equal.”

The Swan Lake Fire first began on June 5 when lightning struck in a remote part of the refuge. By the end of July the fire was nearly under control at about 102,000 acres, and fire management was scaled back significantly after several inches of rain slowed the growth of the blaze.

In August, a high wind event coupled with record high dryness and heat quickly made the Swan Lake Fire the largest and most expensive fire in the nation, ultimately billowing to over 160,000 acres.

The fire’s expansion filled communities with smoke during peak tourist and fishing seasons, triggered two evacuation warnings for the communities of Sterling and Cooper Landing and prompted numerous closures of the Sterling Highway causing freight delays.

In the letter, Micciche said that his constituents raised concerns to him regarding the management of the fire during the peak of its activity in August.

“Many have asked why the importance of wildlands and wildlife seems to outweigh the importance of human life and property,” Micciche said in the letter. “Now is the time to ask those questions, understand the policies of fire management on federal lands in the proximity of communities and request revisions to those policies with a scalable approach with a priority for human and property safety.”

The Clarion attempted to reach Loranger and Sanchez by phone for comment but did not receive a response from either.

The letter was also sent to all other Kenai Peninsula lawmakers, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce and the state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige.

Micciche requested this meeting to be in early November, and his office has stated that all parties involved have responded positively to the request.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point house fire leaves one dead, one in serious condition

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)
Center promotes avalanche awareness

The Chugach Avalanche Center in Girdwood will begin its daily forecasts Saturday.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Historic sockeye run predicted for Bristol Bay

ADF&G says 2022 run could break this year’s record

The entrance to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest was covered in snow on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, a day after federal authorities announced the next step in restoring the 2001 Roadless Rule on the forest. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Feds put freeze on Roadless Rule rollback

On the Roadless Rule again.

tease
Alaska man pleads not guilty to threatening 2 US senators

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Commercial fishing vessels are seen here on the Kenai River on July 10, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Fishing industry takes a hit during pandemic

Overall fish harvesting jobs in Alaska dropped by the widest margin since 2000 — 14.1% — in 2020.

FILE - The Olympic rings stand atop a sign at the entrance to the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on July 8, 2020. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, declared "squaw" to be a derogatory term and said she is taking steps to remove the term from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names. The popular California ski resort changed its name to Palisades Tahoe earlier this year. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)
Interior secretary seeks to rid U.S. of derogatory place names

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday formally declared… Continue reading

Most Read