The variety of groups that want to continue the Goldstream Public Use Area tells quite a bit about the level of support for this long-standing recreation area that is in need of legislative reauthorization.
The Alaska Outdoor Council, the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, the Alaska Miners Association, the Arctic Audubon Society and the Fairbanks North Star Borough trails advisory group all want the area continued in its current form.
The Legislature in 1990 set aside the 2,000-acre space for public recreation purposes, but that designation will expire in July unless the Legislature acts to renew it. The Senate on Friday passed a renewal measure by a vote of 15-0, with five members absent.
The area, in the vicinity of Ballaine Road along Goldstream Creek, is popular with a variety of user groups. It’s largely swampy, making it good for berry picking in the fall. It’s also used by hunters and, in winter, by snowmachiners and dog mushers.
The bill, Senate Bill 195, would repeal the sunset clause of the original measure, making the Goldstream Public Use Area a long-term fixture of Fairbanks. Few things are permanent, of course, and the Legislature could, after passage of this bill, change the purpose of the area if the need arose.
For now, however, the general sentiment is to keep the area as it is. More than 100 letters of support have been submitted on behalf of the bill.
The Senate’s strong vote of support and the backing of a mix of user groups should make it easy for the House to pass the measure and for Gov. Sean Parnell to sign it into law.