Arctic Man canceled due to permitting issue

The Arctic Man snowmachine event that draws thousands of people to Summit Lake in April will not happen this year. 

Arctic Man founder and president Howard Thies said he applied to renew an expiring state land use permit with the Department of Natural Resources in November but the process dragged into late January, eating through event preparation time.

“We’re too far down the umbrella to make it happen,” he said. “Plus, I lost a bunch of sponsors.”  

Thies has shifted focus to next year’s Arctic Man, a multi-day event that includes snowmachine racing, RV camping and outdoor parties. He said the latest DNR permit proposal looks ok, but wants to have a face-to-face meeting with the agency before signing anything.  

“It’s not that bad a deal, I just want to make sure we’re all talking the same language,” he said.

The proposal reduces the basic permit fee from $6,400 to $1,300, but makes up the difference with a charge for each RV parking spot on a 40-acre area off the Richardson Highway. 

Rachel Longacre, DNR chief of operations for the Division of Mining, Land and Water, said it’s a way to roughly account for the thousands of people who attend Arctic Man.  

“A four-dollar visitor day use fee for each registered parking spot. We felt that was a good compromise,” she said.

Longacre said permit fees serve a basic purpose.

“Helps return the use of public lands back into our revenue stream,” she said. 

Thies maintains Arctic Man operates like a non-profit and should be treated differently.

“We’re not a commercial recreational business,” he said. “We are an event that uses that for parking, so people don’t park on the highway and kill themselves.”   

Thies said he’s in communication with the governor’s office about the permit and has requested a meeting with the DNR. Longacre said the agency is more than willing to continue working toward a permit for the 2025 Arctic Man.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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