TJ pretty much has the overall problem described in a nutshell!
Ken Fanning and I drafted the original TCCP bill back in the 1970's. It was introduced in the Legislature by Rep Red Swanson of Nenana and passed handily. We wrote it to make it as "DNR-proof" as possible! I also worked on drafting the original set of regulations; ATA was in on that process as well (I was a DNR employee at the time. Much to their dismay...!)
But over the years, DNR has been gradually ratcheting down on the permits, making them more and more difficult to obtain and maintain. Which, as Jim suggests, is the crux of the issue. Yuppies in cubicles have no idea of why cabins are important to trappers. And they don't understand why we should be allowed to build and use them on "their" land!
I'm working with Al. And with Randy at ATA. (Not just on the State process, but also on trapper cabins on Federal land) On the State side, we hope to pull together plenty of evidence of what is going on, but we need the help of trappers who have dealt with DNR lately trying to apply for TCCPs. My opinion is that there is little sense in trying to get DNR to begin managing this program to comply with the original intent of the law. Rather, it is going to require a LEGISLATIVE solution. We need to have the legislature make some additions to the statutes (law) that DNR will not be able to manipulate to suit their own purposes.
A lot of this could also hinge on who is elected Governor this fall. While I doubt that Walker can be reelected (thank goodness...) having Begich get in would be disasterous and only result in a worse and more controlling and anti-trapping DNR. In my opinion, any one of Dunleavy, Hawkins or Treadwell would be a lot more likely to treat us fairly. Treadwell is probably the best champion of State's rights and dealing with Federal overreach, but it is important that we support whomever can beat Begich.
Be active and involved. If you have had experience dealing with DNR on TCCPs, please let Al or I know about it and get us copies of your permit conditions.