Moose watch
A young bull moose watches from his high vantage point as traffic passes by in a neighborhood near Wasilla. Increasing daylight and warmer temperatures will have more moose moving along southcentral Alaska's roadways, increasing the chances of moose vs. car collisions. Moose will also likely be hungry and cranky after a winter of heavy snowfall, so avoiding them is generally the best option for safety's sake. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Pennell)
New iSportsman system makes base access easier



by Senior Airman Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs


4/19/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A new system will soon be implemented at JBER, which will make recreational areas on the base easier to access for those with military affiliation as well as those without.
The iSportsman system is a recreation access system that is the first of its kind at an Air Force installation and will replace the U.S. Army Garrison Alaska Recreation Tracking System, or USARTRAK.

"This new system is much more user-friendly because it provides maps and more accurate openings for training areas," said Mark Sledge, JBER's senior conservation enforcement officer. "USARTRAK was good for its time but it was not as reliable as this new system."

The iSportsman system allows people who do not have any affiliation with the military to have access to certain areas of the base for recreational purposes, such as hiking and fishing.

For those who already have access to the base, it allows them to more safely recreate on the installation because it requires that they provide their planned destination on the base.

To access iSportsman, those who are interested should go to www.jber.isportsman.net. After a quick registration process, a permit number and pin number is automatically generated.

Once those are issued, a permit may be obtained. For those without military affiliation, that permit is then taken to the JBER visitors center where they register in the Defense Biometric Identification System.

Once registered, a seven-day pass is issued and must be renewed every seven days that access to JBER is desired.

"The registration process allows us to figure out whether you are Department of Defense-affiliated or not," Sledge said. "The program had to be written to recognize those with no military affiliation and only allow them to go where the public can go."
Sledge said while this system was developed in order to facilitate the relationship between JBER

and those members of the public who wish to recreate on the training lands here, the military mission will always be the first priority.

"Because this is a military installation, training obviously comes first," Sledge said. "The whole reason this base is here is for Soldiers, Airmen and other military personnel. But when those areas are not being utilized for training, we can open them up for fishing and hiking or whatever."

DoD card holders, including retirees and dependents, are not as limited as to where on the installation they are allowed to recreate but they still must register with the iSportsman program for safety and security reasons.

"It's a great system. If you get out there and you get lost or you get hurt and you don't come home, I can query the system and see where you are signed in and start looking for you," Sledge said. "It gives me a place to start. It also keeps you from being downrange when Soldiers are shooting live ammunition. It's a win-win."

Although Sledge said the program may go through growing pains in the early stages, it offers advantages for everyone.

"It's a new system. There are going to be little bumps with it as we go. Be patient with us. Once we get all the bugs worked out, it's going to be great for both the military and the user," he said.