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New Goose Bay Refuge Gate Aimed at Scofflaws, Not Visitors

Wasilla — Don’t get the wrong idea: A new gate installed on one of Goose Bay State Game Refuge’s main access roads is meant to foil scofflaws, not keep legitimate visitors out.

The gate is placed 200 yards from the end of the main access road at the old Knik Arm cannery site where recent dumping and other illegal activities have centered. The entire refuge, meanwhile, remains open to foot traffic. Snowmachine access during winter will also be allowed pending adequate snow cover.

Located at the end of Knik-Goose Bay Road 20 miles southwest of Wasilla, Goose Bay is bordered to the south by Knik Arm and to the north and west by Point MacKenzie Road. Previously the location of a Nike Missile site that was eventually abandoned, the refuge’s road entrance received decades of abuse including vehicle burning, garbage dumping, unregulated target shooting, and vandalism. In recent years, the entrance was cleaned up by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and partners and is now a popular destination for waterfowl hunters, birders and other outdoor recreationists. Since 2010, nearly 100 abandoned and burned vehicles, hundreds of discarded appliances, and 120 tons of garbage and debris were removed from refuge access points.

“Dumping, target shooting and bonfires have continued since the cleanup,” said Statewide Program Coordinator Joe Meehan. “We’re hoping this gate will stop those illegal activities from happening.”

Meehan said the department has spent valuable, limited funds cleaning up lead contamination and debris at the Goose Bay refuge. “These funds could be better spent on protecting wildlife and enhancing access facilities,” he said.

Goose Bay State Game Refuge, created in 1975, encompasses 11,000 acres of wetlands and forests. The refuge is a staging area for thousands of migrating ducks, geese, swans and shorebirds. Access sites include parking areas and short walking trails.