Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
December 2020

ADF&G: $1.5 Million in Federal Grants to Support
New Hunter Access Projects Across Alaska

By Jared Keeling
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This floating dock and boat launch at Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Lake Louise site opened in August of 2020.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s (ADF&G) Hunter Access Grant Program is excited to announce the results of our 2020 application period – three new projects distributed throughout Alaska have been selected to receive $1.5 million in federal funds. Project partners will contribute just over a half-million dollars in non-federal funds as match toward these projects located in Fairbanks, Chugach State Park, and Oliver Inlet State Marine Park near Juneau.

The largest and most unique new project is for improvements to Fairbanks North Star Borough’s Cushman Shooting Range. While projects in the past have focused on improvements to access-related infrastructure, this one will revolve around range safety and education. Receiving $1.3 million in federal funds, this project will construct and improve the protective berms of the 300-yard range in addition to other features that will expand capacity and improve safety at the facility in Fairbanks. ADF&G is proud to support this project, as recreational shooters contribute significantly to the federal funds that make this program possible.

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Many hunters within the Eklutna Lake Management Area depend on ATVs.

Brian Charlton, Park Project Coordinator for Fairbanks North Star Borough, expresses the borough’s vision for these range improvements:

“With this grant funding the Borough hopes to improve opportunities for hunter education and firearms training, improve range safety, and protect people recreating in the vicinity of the Shooting Range.”

While the two other selected projects are smaller, they will still provide significant benefits to hunters, trappers, and other users in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska.

Near Anchorage, Chugach State Park will be seeing a parking lot expansion at the Eklutna Lake OHV Trailhead to accommodate more trailers as well as safety improvements. Due to its convenience and proximity to Mat-Su and Anchorage residents, the facility receives considerable use from local hunters and those who are dialing in gear for hunts in more remote areas. Alaska State Parks will receive $180,000 to fund these improvements, which aim to alleviate parking pressure with an additional upper parking area.

The third selected project is located within Oliver Inlet State Marine Park near Juneau and involves another first for our program – a tramway for watercraft. Built in 1957, this 1-mile elevated rail system allows users to portage gear and small watercraft from Oliver Inlet to the Seymour Canal – a trip that would otherwise require a 100-mile detour. Approximately $65,000 will go to Alaska State Parks for this project, which will focus on improving degraded sections of the tramway in need of repair, as hunts in Game Management Unit 4 largely rely on watercraft access.

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A short drive from Anchorage, visitors to Penguin Creek may have noticed this sign on the new bridge.

Rys Miranda, Chief of Design and Construction speaks on behalf of Alaska State Parks:

“Alaska State Parks is looking forward to partnering with the Department of Fish and Game on these two projects. Both projects will benefit the hunting community by improving hunter access infrastructure at Eklutna Lake and Oliver Inlet. This is a great example of interagency commitment as we work together to provide quality access to Alaska’s great outdoors.”

What is ADF&G’s Hunter Access Program?

Unless you work closely with a public land manager, recreational organization, or have a keen eye and an inquiring mind, there’s a high likelihood that you don’t know much about what our program does. In short, our program distributes federal funding towards access improvements for hunting, shooting, trapping, and other wildlife-related activities throughout Alaska. To do this, we collaborate with state and federal land managers, local governments, and the general public to identify and develop projects.

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The new bridge at Byers Lake provides safe hunting access within Denali State Park.

In fact, if you frequent recreation sites around Alaska, you may have noticed some of these have recently received upgrades and improvements. Observant visitors to these sites may have noticed signage indicating improvements were “provided through a cooperative effort between ADF&G, the land manager, and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman-Robertson Act).” Working within ADF&G’s Division of Wildlife Conservation, it is the Hunter Access Program that coordinates this collaborative effort with the ultimate goal of enhancing access to Alaska’s wildlife resources.

When did this program begin?

The Hunter Access Grant Program launched in 2015 after firearm and ammunition sales increased at an unprecedented rate nationwide. Thanks to excise taxes associated with these sales, additional federal funds became available to ADF&G’s Division of Wildlife Conservation to fund projects directly benefitting the hunters, trappers, and shooters who contribute to the fund.

Since the program’s inception in 2015, 23 projects have been funded with 11 having been completed as of December of 2020. These projects — totaling about $14 million in Pittman-Robertson funds— include regrading roads, adding signage to public access points, and constructing or repairing trails, parking areas, bridges, vaulted toilets and other structures – with tramway and shooting range improvements being added to the list this year. The Division of Wildlife Conservation is committed to investing in diverse projects that enrich our hunting and shooting sports communities.

Still have questions?

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The ADF&G Hunter Access Program collaborated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on multiple sites within Tangle Lakes Archeological District along the Denali Highway.

For those who want more background information, a previous article by Katie Sechrist provides a breakdown of the Hunter Access program and how it works, including details on the Pittman-Robertson funds that make this program possible.

For more information about ADF&G Division of Wildlife Conservation activities funded with Pittman-Robertson funding, or to learn about our grant program and sign up for updates, please visit our website

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