Heavy snowfall and a stabilized snowpack has enabled the Department of Natural Resources to reopen the East Hatcher Pass Management Area to snowmachine use.
The area has been closed to the public since Nov. 27 due to extreme avalanche conditions prompted by heavy snowfall. Alaska State Parks Superintendent Wayne Biessel said there is up to 8 feet of snow at Independence Mine in the Mat-Su, and up to 3 feet of snow in the Gold Mint area.
The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reopened the Hatcher Pass Road after clearing last week's avalanche debris.
"There's still some avalanche risk. There's risk anytime you're in the backcountry with snow," Biessel said. "But I can say it's safer than last week by far.
"Many avalanche-prone areas have slid.
"We're still advising the public to be very cautious. I suspect we'll see a lot of folks heading up there to see what's happened tomorrow."
The Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is also reopening to snowmachines after low temperatures re-stabilized the snowpack. However, recreationalists are advised to stay off the Red Shirt Lake Winter Trail until flowing water on the trail freezes.