Originally Posted by Doug-N-AK
Whatever we go wheelin' all the time up in Sutton, King River, and Jim Creek just to name a few places
That's because the tundra isn't everywhere in Alaska.
Here is a thread about the story I was talking about
By Tim Mowry
Published April 5, 2007
The stuck trucks are free, but the bill associated with getting them out won’t be.
The Anchorage hunters who got two pickup trucks stuck in the tundra off the Dalton Highway about 350 miles north of Fairbanks while trying to retrieve caribou they shot in September finally succeeded in getting the vehicles out, according to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“I’m so glad those trucks are out,” said Shelly Jacobson, field manager for BLM’s central Yukon field office who has been overseeing efforts to remove the trucks. “It’s been such a spectacle.”
The hunters, from Elmendorf Air Force Base, tried three previous times this winter to extract the trucks. This time they used jackhammers and rotary drills powered by generators that were hauled to the site by snowmachine to dig the trucks out of the frozen tundra, Jacobson said.
The hunters stayed on site in a wall tent and had a parachute canopy covering the trucks and heaters to warm the work space, but the heaters didn’t do much to thaw the ground.
The truck closest to the highway, a Dodge Ram 1500 stuck about a half mile from the road, was removed on Saturday. The other truck, a Ford F-150 stuck about 4 1/2 miles from the road, was freed on Tuesday.
The trucks were loaded onto sleds placed under each tire and towed out to the Dalton Highway by Alyeska Pipeline Co. using a pair of Tucker Sno-Cats, said Jacobson.
The BLM asked Alyeska to tow the trucks to the road, according to Alyeska spokesman Curtis Thomas, who said Alyeska will not charge the hunters for towing the trucks out.
“It’s an act of good Samaritanism,” he said.
The trucks had been stuck since Sept. 8 when the hunters hiked five miles off the road and shot three caribou. Rather than pack the animals back to the trucks, the hunters attempted to drive the trucks to the caribou, even though they knew motorized vehicles weren’t allowed for five miles on each side of the road, an area called the Dalton Highway Corridor.
The incident garnered statewide attention, and the hunters’ ongoing efforts to remove the trucks generated spirited debate in hunting and environmental camps around the state in part because of the brashness of the stunt. The BLM received dozens of phone calls and e-mails from Alaskans offering everything from advice on how to get the trucks out to what kind of punishment the hunters should face.
The drivers of the two trucks were cited by the BLM for driving in a non-motorized area, the equivalent of a traffic fine, but the hunters face further fines and penalties, Jacobson said. The BLM will seek reimbursement for administrative costs associated with removing the trucks. Jacobson described the costs as “substantial.”
“We haven’t added them up,” she said.
The hunters may also have to pay reclamation costs if the BLM determines any work is needed to rehabilitate the disturbed ground, said Jacobson. How much damage was done to the tundra remains to be seen when the ground thaws, but Jacobson was impressed by the pictures she saw during and after the operation.
“They were pretty surgical,” she said. “It looks pretty good.”
The hunters used jackhammers to cut into the frozen tundra and then cut their way to the frame and axles, shoveling the frozen dirt away as they went. Once they got the trucks free, sleds were put under each tire and the trucks were towed out. The hunters shoveled the dirt back into the depressions they had cut when they were done.
“We’re going to take a look at it this summer after everything thaws out,” Jacobson said.
The only sign of the trucks being towed out were toboggan sled marks in the snow, she said.
“The towing out went slick,” said Jacobson, who called Alyeska’s assistance “very nice.”
Steve Houghton, maintenance manager at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ nearby Toolik Field Station, was on hand to witness part of the extraction process. He called the removal of the trucks “a success story.”
Houghton said he was glad to help the hunters get the trucks out.
“These guys are willing to put their butts on the line for us, it’s the least we can do,” he said, referring to their military status. “They paid their sentence and it was time to get them out, whatever it took.”
BLM employees were on hand to monitor the removal. Based on what they saw, it didn’t appear either truck leaked any oil, transmission fluid or gasoline on the tundra, Jacobson said.
“That was a concern a lot of us had,” she said.
The BLM does plan to release the names of the offenders, Jacobson said.
“I know the perception is out there that we’re trying to protect them from public scrutiny, but that’s not the case,” she said.
Rather, the agency doesn’t want to compromise the investigation that BLM rangers have been conducting since the incident occurred back in September.
The BLM is still planning to team with UAF researchers at the Toolik Field Station to monitor the recovery of the damaged tundra, Jacobson said.