An Army general, who declared he had a moral right to train troops on a state park glacier and who had vowed not to back off, assented Friday, dropping demands that soldiers train on Eklutna Glacier.
The Army had demanded a state permit to put troops in Chugach State Park and on Eklutna Glacier, creating what state parks director Neil Johannsen described as a "firestorm" of protest that divided Anchorage.Fort Richardson Col. Ted Medley finally agreed to do what Johannsen and Army critics have been suggesting for months - examine another glacier outside the park for arctic warfare troop training.
Johannsen and Medley, speaking at a news conference Friday, reported that Eklutna Glacier was no longer under active consideration for Army use and that officials would study the suitability of Knik Glacier, which is bigger, not in a state park, and just a little farther away.
Johannsen acknowledged that he was coming under increasing pressure from politicians, the Chamber of Commerce and Army supporters to grant a permit to put gun-toting soldiers on the glacier in the heavily-used park 30 miles northeast of Anchorage.
Fort Richardson is between Anchorage and Eklutna. Army officials said Eklutna offered a close, cheap, convenient way for soldiers to get needed training in case they ever had to fight on that terrain.