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Knik River Public Use Area


Welcome to the Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA) website. The purpose of this site is to learn about the recreational opportunities in the KRPUA, unique land use rules, and information on wildlife habitat.

Bird Watching The KRPUA is a legislatively designated area (AS 41.23.180-230) managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Mining, Land, and Water, Southcentral Regional Office. The area was created through a legislative process and signed into law by Governor Frank Murkowski on June 30, 2006 (House Bill 307 (PDF)). Land within the KRPUA boundary encompasses approximately 200,000 acres of state owned lands, and another 60,000 acres of federally owned lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (Friday Creek and Hunter Creek drainages). There are also approximately 1,000 acres of privately owned lands within the KRPUA boundaries. Private and federally owned lands within the area are not subject to KRPUA enforcement regulations and management objectives.

Like other Public Use Areas in the state, the purpose for establishing the KRPUA is to preserve, perpetuate, and enhance public recreation, enjoyment of fish and wildlife, and the traditional use of fish and wildlife resources. The area provides for a full-spectrum of outdoor recreational opportunities, and is open to motorized and non-motorized recreational pursuits. Activities common to the area include riding of off-highway vehicles (OHV's), hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting, boating, flying planes, horseback riding, biking, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

Rafting Knik River Prominent land features of the region include the Knik Glacier, Knik River, Pioneer Peak, Jim Creek, Bodenburg Creek, Friday Creek, Metal Creek, and Hunter Creek. The high elevation Chugach Mountains that form the Knik River Valley make for a dramatic backdrop to the alluvial gravel bars and winding braids of the Knik River. Overall the area is rugged and remote, which is what makes it such a popular destination for campers, off-road enthusiasts, fixed wing aviators, horseback riders, and boaters. A sprawling lakes and wetlands complex on the north side of the river is popular among bird watchers, boaters, anglers, and hunters. The area as a whole offers a wide range of multiple-use outdoor recreational pursuits for people of all ages and interests.

Land managers with DNR's, Division of Mining, Land, and Water, Southcentral Regional Office actively manage the area through partnerships with the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. DNR land managers also receive input and support from local community councils, local residents, and regional outdoor recreation interests groups and non-profit organizations.


The Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA) is actively managed by the Southcentral Regional Office (SCRO) of the Division of Mining, Land, and Water, Department of Natural Resources. The SCRO is tasked with managing general domain state owned land throughout southcentral Alaska and undertakes a variety of management/stewardship obligations pertaining to public process decision making, issuance of land use authorizations (permits, easements, leases), and compliance/enforcement duties. Some activities require land use authorizations, while other activities are generally allowed. There are also area wide prohibited uses that are enforced through citation (PDF) . The SCRO has one full-time land manager dedicated to handling day to day management actions within the KRPUA. The land manager serves as the contact person for issues that arise within the KRPUA, and regularly spends time in the field meeting with recreational users, maintaining signs and informational kiosks, and coordination of enforcement activities. The land manager also networks with state, local, and federal agencies to achieve management objectives set forth in the management plan.

Informational SignsManagement guidelines found in the KRPUA Management Plan are intended to provide specific management direction for the area. These guidelines range from general guidance for decision-making to identifying specific factors that need to be considered when making on-the-ground decisions. DNR has recently updated their regulations, commonly referred to as Phase II regulations (PDF) , to ensure that these guidelines can continue to be implemented and are enforceable.

DNR's overall management direction puts its focus on maintaining and enhancing public safety, public education, access and recreational opportunities for public and commercial users, protection of fish and wildlife habitat, and perpetuation of law enforcement throughout the entire area.


Abandoned Vehicle Salvage One of the most popular attractions of the Knik River Public Use Area (PUA) is Jim Creek, a well-known site in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and a popular destination for folks who enjoy being outdoors, camping, and riding Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs). During late summer, Jim Creek is recognized for its exceptional fishing opportunities. The area is also recognized for its checkered past where chronic unlawful problems were the norm. Underage drinking parties, car burnings, indiscriminate target shooting, wildfires, garbage dumping, and abuse of natural resources gave the area a bad name, and salty reputation. In 2004 local residents, responsible outdoor enthusiasts, special interest groups, and local legislators joined forces to find a solution to the trouble happening on public lands in the area, and subsequently the Knik River Public Use Area was born.

The PUA was signed into law on June 30, 2006 by Governor Frank Murkowski, and the legislation gave management authority to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land, and Water. The legislation was explicit in that the PUA can not be managed as a unit of the state park system. A major component of the legislation required the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a management plan for the area. Beginning in September of 2006 a management planning process commenced, and in September of 2008 the Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan was adopted by the commissioner of DNR. Public meetings were held on multiple occasions throughout Palmer, Wasilla, and Anchorage to identify and address the comments and concerns of area users, local residents, and special interest groups.

The Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan (Plan) describes how the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will manage state owned lands within the PUA boundaries. The Plan provides specific guidance for the management of different uses in the PUA, particularly multiple-use recreational activities. Public access within the PUA is an important issue, and the Plan provides guidance on the management of present and future trails. The Plan also makes recommendations for development of facilities such as boat launches, rifle ranges, parking areas, and campsites.

Wading to Swan Lake The planning area is over 260,000 acres in size (approx. 400 square miles). Within the planning area, approximately 60,000 acres of public land are owned and managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These BLM lands include Wolf Point and the Friday Creek drainage on the north side of the Knik River, and the Hunter Creek drainage on the south side of the river. The BLM is slated to convey these lands to Eklutna Native Corporation in the future. There are eight (8) private parcels of land located within the planning area, including one native allotment in the vicinity of Swan Lake. The other private parcels are found in the Friday Creek area, and up near the Knik Glacier by Metal Creek.

Management recommendations and policies developed through the plan will apply to state owned lands within the boundary of the PUA. The plan does not apply to federal, Native Corporation, or private lands.


Abandoned Vehicle The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is pro-actively developing a comprehensive law enforcement strategy for the Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA). A key component of this strategy involves routine patrols by DNR Peace Officers, the Alaska State Troopers and Wildlife Troopers. For many years a variety of unlawful activities have occurred on lands throughout the Knik River corridor, including but not limited to, resource degradation, vehicle burnings, garbage dumping, hazardous waste disposal, vandalism, under age drinking, litter, reckless target shooting, and tree cutting. In an effort to get better compliance from users of the area, DNR has prioritized their law enforcement on five key fronts, 1) regular State Trooper patrols, 2) rules that are enforceable through ticket citations, 3) on site public education/outreach, 4) signage, and 5) annual community cleanup events.

DNR encourages everyone enjoying our state lands to act responsibly and adhere to area wide rules. Groups or individuals found violating land use rules will be subject to citation(s). For a list of 'Citable Offenses' click on the link below.

Illegal Burn Pile If you witness a crime taking place call 9-11 to report the offense. Know your location, and be prepared to tell dispatch your name and contact information. Not knowing your exact location makes it difficult for dispatch to locate the crime scene. If the crime involves a vehicle(s) try to get a license plate(s) numbers, get a good description of the violators (describe colors, make, model, clothes colors, hats, size, age, etc.). Safety first, never put yourselves in harm's way to get information. If you feel like you're in danger then leave the scene immediately and find help.

Trooper Enforcement Statistics

Fiscal Year Hours Routine
Warnings Citations Arrests
2007 181 375 74 11 -
2008 917 2,579 422 125 22
2009 1,895 4,961 430 81 9
2010 427 1,159 173 27 2
2011 365 473 68 - 3
2012 1,469 4,105 403 112 8
2013 1,499 2,357 312 60 8
2014 983 2,036 429 80 3
2015 1,277 3,445 644 207 15
2016 1,185 2,578 496 189 14
2017 507 1,800 178 35 4
2018 1,061 3,004 454 295 47 9
Total on 5-30-18 11,765 26,322 3,924 974 97
Annual Average 940.42 3,004 2193.5 327.0 81.17 8.08
Average Per Hour 2,24 0.33 0.08 0.01

Defined Terms: This data set does not cover citations or violations under Alaska Statute and Regulations outside of 11 AAC 96.016(b)(c).
Hours: These comprise the billed hours of the Alaska State Troopers and Wildlife Troopers for each fiscal year.
Routine: This data set was created to cover contacts that State Troopers have in which they speak with the public, but do not gather identifiable information (i.e. Driver's License)
Enforcement: When contact is made to correct behavior that does not adhere to the Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan.
Warnings: This is when a warning is given to an individual in lieu of a citation under 11 AAC 96.016(b)(c).
Citations: A contact in which a citation is given under KRPUA regulations 11 AAC 96.016(b)(c).
Arrests: An criminal arrest under Alaska Statute and Regulations outside of 11 AAC 96.016(b)(c).

Current Projects

Consistent with AS 38.05.850, DNR issues miscellaneous land use authorizations for activities on state owned lands within the Knik River Public Use Area (PUA). The most common land use authorizations issued in the PUA are land use permits, public access easements, and site easements. Land use permits can provide authorization for commercial recreation activities, cross-country travel of heavy equipment, large organized events, trail works, and improvements to facilities. Public access easements and site easements reserve state land for specific uses such as trails (motorized and non-motorized), facility development, and associated maintenance activities.

The KRPUA Land Manager now has a local field office located at 17704 Sullivan Avenue, Suite 111 inside the new Mat-Su Borough Parks and Rec Maintenance Shop. Regular office hours haven't been established yet, but will be posted once they are finalized.

Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range

The shooting range has now been fully operational for over a year! We have gotten great feedback and are consistently working to make sure we are constantly improving.

We would like to remind all users of the shooting range's normal schedule of 10:00am to 8:00pm.

The range is closed every Wednesday.

There are now 18 lanes of fire on the 100 yard range, and 10-12 lanes of fire on the 25 yard range. Parking has also been expanded and portable lavatories are provided.

Use of the Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range is at your own risk.

That being said, please ensure you have read and understood all the Range Rules and Range Fees. Both DNR land managers and the State Troopers have citation authority at the range.

Located between Palmer and Butte Alaska, the Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range is off of the Maud Road Extension, approximately 2.7 miles from the end of the paved section of Maud Road. It is approximately 1000 feet past Mud Lake with signage marking its location.

When done using the area, please clean up all debris and refuse from your shell casings to your targets. Trash cans will be provided and emptied regularly.

Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range Phase II
Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range Phase II

Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range Statistics

Trash Bags Vehicles
2021 2,783 293 3,416
2020 38,466 1,178 18,183
2019 15,890 477 7,974
2018 20,510 640 9,842
2017 21,505 497 11,728
2016 14,221 415 5,769
2015 2,774 201 1,813


The Knik River Public Use Area (PUA) has an extensive system of trails, most of which are multiple-use. Nearly every trail in the PUA was created over the course of time as a result of unplanned social use. Some trails were created to access hunting and trapping areas, other trails were created for the purpose of recreation, and still others were developed for the purpose of resource extraction. The most well known trail leaves the trailhead and travels 25 miles up towards the Knik Glacier. The trail is more of a route than a designated pathway.

RST 17 Reroute
RST 17 Trail Reroute
Rippy Trail
Rippy Trail Fall Colors

Maud Road Extension

No available information at this time.

Sexton Trail

The Sexton trail is one of two trails with a reciprocal easement that is also held by the Mat-Su Borough. Arguably one of the most used trails to access the Knik River bed, it has been reserved to a maximum width of 100 feet and begins from where it attaches to Sullivan Avenue and extends to the Knik River bed.

Legal Easement Document
Google Earth File
Google Maps start point

Trail of Envy

The Trail of Envy is one of two trails with a reciprocal easement that is also held by the Mat-Su Borough. It has been reserved to a maximum width of 50 feet and has two entrances, one from where it begins at the corner of Sullivan and Cauldil, and another from the south side of the Mat-Su Boroughs parking lot.

Legal Easement Document
Google Earth File
Google Maps start point

Rippy Trail

Rippy Trail was formally established in the Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan. Built to sustainable trail standards and finished in 2014, it travels along the mountain side and crosses Jim Creek on a 55 foot aluminum bridge where is then loops around back on itself. The trail is approximately 3.5 miles long, and 6.2 miles round trip.

Legal Easement Document
Google Earth File
Google Maps start point

Chain of Lakes

The Chain of Lakes Trail consists of approximately 4 miles of footpath starting off at the Rippy Trail and ending just north of the Finger lakes. The area around the trail also serves as a popular camping, canoeing, and picnicking area. In the fall, it is used by hunters for bears, moose, and sheep on the mountain slopes to the north.

Legal Easement Document
Google Earth File
Google Maps start point

Jim Lake Overlook Trails

The Jim Lake Overlook Trails consists of approximately 300 feet of footpath connective between the Maud Road Extension and an overlook on an adjoining hill. The area around the trail also serves as a popular camping/picnicking area, and in the fall is used by hunters for spotting bears, moose, and sheep on the mountain slopes to the north. The current trail has minimized the steep decent/accent by the use of switchbacks and climbing turns.

Legal Easement Document
Google Earth File
Google Maps start point

Knik Glacier Trail

No available information at this time.

17B Trails

No available information at this time.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Knik Glacier FlatsThe Knik River Public Use Area (PUA) is home to a wide variety of different habitat types including glaciers, ice fields, braided river channels and exposed shorelands, high elevation mountains, alpine and sub-alpine tundra, boreal forests, creeks and floodplains, and a sprawling lakes and wetlands complex. Each of these habit types help to influence the areas rich and diverse fish and wildlife populations. For more information on the different types of fish, birds, and animals found throughout the PUA visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Notebook.

Fish that are common to the area include Sockeye salmon (Red), Coho Salmon (Silver), and Chum Salmon. Salmon are anadromous which means that they migrate from saltwater to spawn in fresh water. Resident freshwater species of Dolly Varden and a fish not often seen because of its small inconspicuous markings is the Slimy Sculpin are also found throughout the Knik Valley.

The most popular fishery in the PUA is Jim Creek. Large runs of silver salmon migrate up Jim Creek to reach the streams of the lakes and wetlands complex. These lakes include Mud Lake, Jim Lake, Gull Lake, Swan Lake, Leaf Lake, and Chain Lakes. The expansive lakes and wetlands provide ideal habitat for the rearing of anadromous fish.

Bull MooseThe PUA is home to a wide variety of animals including big game, small game, and furbearers. Big game animals found in the area include, Moose, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Dall Sheep, and Mountain Goat. Some examples of small game animals found in the area include Hares, Porcupine, Shrews, and Voles. Common furbearing animals of the area include Beaver, Coyote, Lynx, Marmot, Marten, Mink, Muskrat, Northern Flying Squirrel, Red Fox, River Otter, Weasels, Wolf, and Wolverine.

There are many different kinds of bird species that visit the PUA. A species list of these birds can be found in the "Birds of Jim-Swan (PDF)" checklist. Some of the more recognized birds seen in the PUA include Trumpeter Swans, Ducks, Eagles, Ravens, Owls, and Accipiters.


Travis Jensen
(907) 269-8503