June 4th Focus Sessions

Downtown Public Library
Large Meeting Room
Monday, June 4th, 2018
1:00pm to 5:00pm

To gain some additional information, we are having four specific focus group meetings the afternoon of June 4th, in the Downtown Public Library in the large meeting room. These will begin at 1:00, with specific times listed below for each session. Everyone is invited to attend the session(s) of their interest. Each session will have specific content, so please review the goals for the sessions.

Commercial Vehicle Access (1:00 to 1:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to understand how best to facilitate convenient and quick loading and unloading of permitted commercial vehicles.
b. Discussion: Range of vehicle types and vehicle needs for passenger drop-off, pick-up, and parking. This will include design needs for disabled access, vehicle capacities, vehicle lengths, turning radii, future vehicles that may be used, and other data specific to site design.
c. Key attendees: Commercial Transport Permit Holders, others who are interested

Boat Transportation on the lake (2:00 to 2:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is provide information on research to date, to better understand ideas for how this might be implemented, and to understand concerns about the concept.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial system assumptions and ideas, with discussion.
c. Key attendees: Potential System Operators, others who are interested

Glacier Side Development (3:00 to 3:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to provide information on planning to date, and to discuss the possible development of recreation and visitor facilities closer to the glacier face.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial information, with discussion
c. Key attendees: those who are interested

Sustainability (4:00 to 4:50)
a. Goal: The desired outcome is to provide information on research to date, and to discuss other opportunities. It will also include topics such as sustainable building design, sustainable energy sources, alternative propulsion systems for transport vehicles, a circulator transportation system, etc.
b. Discussion: Presentation of initial assumptions/ideas, with discussion.
c. Key attendees: Stakeholders with a sustainability mandate, others who are interested
d. Note: This session is scheduled last to allow additional discussion if the group wishes to continue.

Focus Area Plans

Below are the six focus area plans that were presented at the April 26th open house. A brief narrative of each is also provided. One of the  focus areas (#5 Visitor Center Campus) was not developed as a plan but was developed as programming of facilities and is also shown below.

1. Trailhead Parking

Proposed development of three new trailheads along Glacier Spur Road to remove social parking along road and provide the desired trailhead facilities. New trailheads are being proposed for Dredge Lake Loop, Crystal Lake, and Trail of Time. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Provide improved trailhead facilities for Dredge Lakes Unit trails
• Provide trailheads and parking off Glacier Spur Road for Crystal Lake, East Glacier, Powerline trail and others
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA

2. Remote Visitor Center at Glacier Base: Docks

Proposed accessible floating docks to the west of the Visitor Center, to the west of the glacier face (near the land access point from the lake to accessing the former ice caves), and to the south of the public kayak/raft ramp near Skater’s Cabin. The proposed floating docks could be used by electric boats (50 or less passenger) that would provide boat access from the Visitor Center to a proposed visitor facility at the glacier (see next focus area). The proposed facility near the Visitor Center would include a terminal building and linked to the Visitor Center with an accessible trail. Construction of the docks will require lake access by equipment and the proposed construction of a boat launch and temporary bulkhead that could be removed once the docks are built (second sheet). With removal of the bulkhead, a proposed accessible floating dock could be constructed in its place. If desired in the future, smaller docks could also be developed near Nugget Falls and along the south shoreline of Mendenhall Lake (second sheet). These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Provide boat access to satellite Visitor Center on Rocky Point.

2. Remote Visitor Center at Glacier Base: Glacier Visitor Facility

From the proposed glacier dock, a 10 foot wide accessible trail would link to a new proposed glacier visitor facility near the site of the former ice caves. The facility would be a heated all-seasons modular facility approximately 1,200 square feet that could be moved to ‘chase the ice’. Amenities could include compost toilets, interpretation, storage, and allow guides to operate from the facility. The facility would include a spur trail to the face of the glacier that could be extended as the glacier recedes. A loop trail from the facility to a scenic glacier overlook and shelter would provide additional recreation opportunities. A wilderness trail could  be developed to a higher elevation site that could include a shelter and as the glacier recedes could be a new site for a new glacier facility. At the dock, a proposed comfort station would include compost toilets and shelter. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Allow people to ‘touch the ice’;
• Keep new visitor center down low near glacier, provide access to reach vantage point;
• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Provide safe and obvious access to the ice caves/glacier;
• More restrooms;
• Provide improved winter recreation opportunities;
• Improve self-guided tour of MGVC, make facilities and trail links more intuitive.

3. Steep Creek Relocation and Boardwalk

Restoration of the middle portion of the creek (low spawning habitat) is proposed to move the creek from the edge of Glacier Spur Road and replace the two culverts under the road with a bridge to create a wildlife underpass and eliminate the perched culverts. The existing elevated Steep Creek trail is proposed to be extended to the south following the new creek alignment to the new Glacier Spur Road bridge and pass under the road and link to the existing Trail of Time as an elevated trail. This would create a looped interpretive trail back to the visitor center.  Observation platforms are proposed along the length of the elevated trail with a larger underwater fish viewing facility south of parking lot #2. A new proposed elevated loop trail would extend from the north segment of the existing Steep Creek trail around the beaver ponds near the mouth of the creek. At-grade social trails that link to the Steep Creek elevated trail would be decommissioned to reduce people and bear conflicts. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• As glacier recedes, focus more on wildlife, bears, fish, birds, etc. as the experience;
• Reduce congestion of Steep Creek elevated trail during bear/fish season;
• Improve self-guided tour of MGVC, make facilities and trail links more intuitive (better signs to let guests have optimal experience);
• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Improve capacity of Nugget Falls, Steep Creek, and Photo Point Trails. Loop trails were possible;
• Encourage local usage, even during the busy tourist periods;
• Improve salmon habitat in Steep Creek;
• More wildlife viewing opportunities;
• Restore Steep Creek and create wildlife underpass under Glacier Spur Road;
• Extend elevated Steep Creek trail to beaver ponds and along mouth of creek at lake;
• Fix perched culverts along Glacier Spur Road;
• Provide routes for wildlife that are separated from human traffic.

4. Lakefront Trail to Skater’s Cabin

A proposed multi-modal, non-motorized trail would link the Visitor Center to the Mendenhall campground and Skater’s Cabin. The 12-14 foot wide trail would start near the gravel bus lot and link to the existing separated path along Glacier Spur Road. The trail would bypass the visitor center campus to the west of Steep Creek and then follow the south shore of the lake. A majority of the proposed trail would be elevated (similar to Steep Creek Trail) to allow for flooding and reduce people and wildlife conflicts. A proposed bridge would cross Mendenhall River near the historic location of the old bridge and link into the campground trail system. The trail would then connect to the Skater’s Cabin Road separated trail and to the West Glacier trailhead. The proposed Lakesfront Trail would be designed to allow nordic skiing and grooming in the winter. These plans were generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• Link MGVC to West Glacier Unit and campground to improve access;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Connect new cross-country ski trails to existing transportation;
• Access to longer/safer hikes/experiences;
• Reduce shoreline/lake erosion due to foot traffic;
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA;
• No impacts to existing Dredge Lakes trail network by permitted users;
• Provide routes for wildlife that are separated from human traffic.

5. Visitor Center Campus

This focus area was developed as a programming element and not developed as a site plan. The plan will be generated in response to the environmental analysis and with additional direction. Programming for this focus area includes:

  • Existing Visitor Center:  The existing visitor center is a valuable resource and will be prioritized for re-use that optimizes its visitor benefit as theater, observation area, interpretation exhibits, and ranger talks. Expand theater, interpretation and restrooms. Move retail to another location to provide additional capacity within the building.
  • Welcome Center: A new structure will be built to accommodate retail, food service and restrooms. (Potentially at or near existing pavilion/parking lot #1). Retail and food service should be located close to each other as they are likely something that would be run by a concession. Programming to include in the Welcome Center:
    • Orientation Area
    • Restrooms
    • Retail Space (include space for on-site sales of activities)
    • Food Service Space – Hot drink and warm sandwich
  • Plaza with staging/rest areas
  • Directional, interpretive and orientation signage
  • Covered areas for resting, staging and learning
  • Expand Photo Point Trail to become a loop trail
  • Develop accessible lake edge trail from Photo Point trail to Steep Creek trail and dock to link facilities and reduce shoreline impacts

The programming was generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Expand facilities and new opportunities for dispersing visitors and increasing carry capacity;
• More restrooms;
• Reduce visitor center and theater congestion;
• Increase capacity for residents and visitors while making it feel less crowded;
• Improve inter-connectivity of facilities;
• Enhance winter access and winter recreation opportunities;
• Provide year round coffee shop/pie shop;
• Provide more interpretation;
• Respect local recreational use of area year-round;
• Protect nesting shorebirds along lake;
• Reduce shoreline/lake erosion due to foot traffic;
• Improve capacity of Nugget Falls, Steep Creek, and Photo Point Trails. Loop trails.


6. Parking and Transfer at the MGVC Unit

This focus area has two options. One that proposes a circulator (wheeled tram) to move cruise ship passengers from  a remote parking area on the edge of the site to the visitor center campus; and another option that proposes continued use to allow commercial vehicles/motor coaches direct access to the visitor center campus with improvements for drop-off and pick-up.

The programming was generated in response to what we heard during the numerous public meetings and include:

• Reduce congestion at bus loading and lot 1 area and better organize;
• Relocate motor coaches away from lot 1 and contact station to reduce congestion and create improved pedestrian zone;
• Off-site/edge of MGRA transit center with circulator to the area;
• Provide more non-motorized routes to and through MGVC and MGRA;
• Separate cruise ship transport loading/unloading from private vehicle and non-motorized access.

Circulator and Public Parking at Visitor Center Campus Option:

Programming includes a proposes remote coach/commercial vehicle parking lot  just within the MGRA near the entrance to the MGVC (near Gladstone Avenue). The proposed facility would include:

  • Coach parking for 50-60 buses
  • Coach drop off for 5 buses
  • Coach pick up for 12 buses
  • Circulator terminal including covered waiting

The proposed circulator could be a variety of wheeled tram vehicles but should not be another motor coach. The tram needs to be part of the MGVC experience. A terminal at the visitor center campus would include a circulator terminal including covered waiting. A dedicated travel lane for the tram would parallel Glacier Spur Road while maintaining the existing roadway for public use. Public parking would be provided near the visitor center.

Motor Coach and Public Parking at Visitor Center Campus Option:

This option proposes continued direct access by motor coaches/commercial vehicles to the visitor center campus. Improved and dedicated drop-off and pick-up stalls for commercial vehicles would improve the experience, reduce congestion and reduce loading and unloading times on site. Motor coach staging would continue at the existing gravel parking lot. The public would continue to have direct access to the visitor center campus. Proposed programming includes the following parking and drop-off facilities at the visitor center campus:

  • Coach drop-off for 8 buses
  • Coach pick-up for 15 buses
  • Covered waiting facility
  • Public parking for 60-90 vehicles

Open House Summary

On the evening of Thursday, April 26th, a public open house was hosted at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Approximately 100 people attended the event to provide input on seven focus areas within the MGVC and larger MGRA. The focus areas and their content were in response to the public, users, and agency input over the last year and a half. In addition to responding to what we heard, the focus areas were developed based on the following criteria:

  • Provide the needed capacity to meet future demand that will result in a positive visitor experience, while minimizing impacts to the natural resources;
  • Allow traditional use of the area by locals;
  • Allow visitors the opportunity “to touch the ice”.

Eight stations where set up throughout the visitor center each manned by a member of the Forest Service or Corvus Design to answer any questions and allow attendees to provide input on the focus areas. The stations included one on the general MGRA/MGVC long range visioning plus the seven focus areas:

  • Trail Heads along Glacier Spur Road
  • Steep Creek Restoration and Steep Creek Trail Improvements
  • Visitor Center Campus
  • Glacier Visitor Facility and Trails
  • Docks at Visitor Center, near glacier, and satellite locations
  • Lakeshore Non-motorized Trail from Visitor Center to West Glacier
  • Transportation (Circulator and motor coach options)

Public comments for each of the eight station are being compiled and will be posted shortly.

Open House Announced

Open House

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

4:00 to 7:00 pm

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

Please join us as we share our work for proposed new facilities around the visitor center and within the larger recreation area. After multiple public meetings and workshops, these proposed facilities respond to current and expected needs and demands over the next ten to twenty years for all visitors. Please provide your input for these proposed improvements including expanded Steep Creek trail and creek enhancements, new visitor center facilities, reconfigured public and motor coach parking, trails and trail head improvements, and others. Your input on these will assist the team in refining the planning and design of these facilities before they are considered for environmental review.

Meeting #5 Summary

On the evening of Tuesday, August 22nd meeting #5 was hosted at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library starting at 7:05 pm. Over 35 members of the general public attended the meeting that focused on how to bring innovation to the MGRA and MGVC planning effort and to set benchmarks or criteria for success for the project. The meeting was facilitated by Amanda Happe of Bruce Mau Design and included the participation of the planning team’s subject matter experts that included transportation in national parks, sustainable tourism, economics, sustainable buildings, renewable energy, visitor center planning and others. Also in attendance were representatives of the US Forest Service.

The welcome was provided by Brad Orr, Juneau District Ranger and was followed by a summary of the meeting agenda and desired outcomes by Amanda Happe.

Attendees were asked to join one of three round table discussions that were of interested to them. The round tables were broken into:

  • Transportation (transit, trails, and roads)
  • Sustainability (buildings, energy, transit, and natural resources)
  • Tourism and Economics (visitor industry, local visitation, economics and visitor trends)

Community Criteria Build

Brief presentations were made by the subject matter experts to the round tables to summarize the ideas and concepts that had been developed previously during the day. Included in the summary was a review of the project “Success Criteria” to set benchmarks that the project could be measured against. The round tables were each asked to prioritize what they felt were the most important or interesting criteria.

Below is a summary of each group’s community criteria priorities.


Highest Priorities
  • Renewable, energy efficient buildings and transportation
  • Preserve the sense of place
  • Access the ice
Secondary Priorities
  • Enhance Juneau as an attractive place to live (in addition to visit)
  • Serve both locals and visitors
  • Dispersed access to and within MGRA due to increase in visitors
  • Enhance winter access and recreation opportunities
  • Community support
Other Priorities
  • Build on the idea of providing access and experiences for all types of people
  • Create an authentic Alaskan experience
  • Connect people to the place in positive emotional ways
  • Focus on authentic experience that residents would be proud to take
    their guests to, and to use themselves.
  • Stimulate to explore, do more, and return to MGRA
  • Balance future planning with current issues.
  • Embrace disappearing ice and commit to sustainable solutions
  • Make the experience better for the wildlife as well as the people
  • Take into account visitor industry trends vs. perception
  • Integrate wild
New Priorities Discussed by the Group
  • Renewable Energy – Transportation must be based on renewable energy
  •  Must address transport TO and WITHIN MGRA
  • Connect new cross-country ski trails to existing transportation
  • Be a transportation solution from the cruise ship docks
  • Consider future winter use. “Chase snow” (ski trails, sledding, etc.)
  • Access to longer/safer hikes/experiences. Get people out for longer, but at the same time protect the wilderness. (Criteria – can I stay out 3 days, camp a different place each night, and not get lost, not damage the wilderness, mauled by a bear, or hurt habitat)
  • Expand the geographic boundaries of the MGRA
  • Number of people that can get on ice and to ice caves, but keep caves
    spiritual (not too crowded)
  • Adding formal communication about conditions/lake ice safety


Highest Priority
  • Be a value to locals and visitors
Secondary Priorities
  • Address carrying capacity, visitor experience, resource protection
  • Have a local voice/perspective and have a cultural piece about Alaska Native relationship with the land
  • Continued food containment and wildlife. 50 bears are not habituated in the area (assuming food shop is added). Protection of wildlife
  • Take into consideration local use of MGRA
Other Priorities
  • Respect indigenous rights and traditions by incorporating input
  • Equally inspire visitors and be of equal quality and beauty to the place itself.
  • Energy neutral – but exemplary in tech leadership (all electrical from renewable sources). Enhancement of sustainability in holistic manner
  • Improve Steep Creek fish access to spawning areas. Fish = Bears = Visitors. Get rid of red and gray culverts.
New Priorities Discussed By the Group
  • Respect local recreational use of area year-round
  • To have set times of operation – Bus lot close at 7:30 (posted time)
  • The process itself validates the importance of local input
  • Verified & noted as a select experience that fundamentally changes a preconceived mindset
  • Encourage local usage, even during the busy tourist season (ie limiting trail usage of Gastineau bridges)
  • Leverage opportunities. Be truly innovative, supporting Alaskan leadership. Be representative of innovative approach.


Highest Priorities
  • Be financially sustainable through user fees, donations, grants, and partnerships. Capital investments may be partially funded through appropriations.
  • Minimize ecosystem impacts
Secondary Priorities
  • Reduce visitor congestion on trails and parking
  • Provide education
  • Any improvements must benefit multiple user groups
  • Improved infrastructure must improve interconnectivity of facilities
  • Each improvement must include ways to reduce dependence on outside utilities: reduce electrical by 50%.
  • Leverage tech
  • Zero waste/environment building standards (min. LEED Gold)
  • Reduce trail congestion by 50%
Other Priorities
  • Increase amenities and decrease environmental impacts compared to current operation.
Other Priorities Discussed By the Group
  • Easy access to different “tiers” of experiences (step off the bus and see something great up to a more wilderness experience). 85% of organized tour visitors participate
  • Incorporate the expected “stereotypical” tourists 30-50 years from now for at least 50% of our visitors. Technology, poor physical shape, general lack of nature
  • Spread visitors out more for a quieter summer experience. 50% less people at main parking lot.
  • Internalize costs of development and equity; Pay to play.
  • Include good wayfinding to help first-time visitors plan and safely experience the area; Signs.
  • Be scalable over 10-20 years. Phases.
  • 50% increase in engagement activities. Special walking/biking tours; Volksmarch, holiday specific, scavenger hunts…..
  • Be in line with what Juneau overall has in mind for tourism growth.
  •  Leverage existing and future resources (Capital Transit, AEL&P, DOT&PF, Trails, etc.). 100% connectivity.
  •  Be so amazing that Congress will provide more funding!
  • Expand variety of education: all levels get feedback directly. Give online classes, surveys, letters from users, kiosks with interactive (buttons to push) as you leave.
  • Find 10 more ways to generate revenue. Expand opportunities for visitor to spend money on wide variety of things (more specific tours, lots of souvenirs, special videos or lectures, view glacier art to buy). National Park connections.
  • Provide routes for wildlife that are separated from human traffic.
  • Have good cell phone coverage for all users everywhere in MGRA.
  • Increase capacity for residents and visitors while making it feel less crowded.

Ideas 2.0

Earlier in the day “Implementation Ideas” were generated by the three groups. These earlier generated ideas were called Ideas 1.0. The public was asked to review and then select one or two of these ideas that they thought should be further refined and to improve upon them to create Ideas 2.0.

Below is a summary of each group’s ideas for innovation.


  • Chase the Ice (Use transportation to tell climate change story)
  • MGRA Light Rail (Encourage use of public transit; Integrated transportation from downtown to MGRA; Light rail or bus powered by hydro power)
  • Hut System/Multi-Day Access (Expanding access while emphasizing safety/smart decisions. Make it easy for people to navigate)
  • Mount Bullard or other mountain tram to glacier or new visitor center
  • Signs and wayfinding (Better signs to let guests have optimal experience)
  • Mobility (Transport to Nugget Falls – moving walkway)
  • Restore natural course of Steep Creek and create wildlife underpass
  • Keep new visitor center down low, provide aerial tram/train to reach vantage point for ice
  • Redesign trails for bear viewing upstream of the road to better manage people
  • An east to west transport station on Mendenhall Lake
  • Encourage People to Get Away from Crowds (Have areas that are easy to access, but have limited access. Lead “solo” experiences)


  • Protect local experience
  • “Huts” as Nodes – Local berry recipes; Local fish prep; Native handcrafts; Folklore/dancing; Artist-in-Residence
  • Use reconfigured bus-loading area as a ground source heat pump surface loop.
  • Dispersal of congestion (Prefer limiting tourism activities to one side of the glacier)
  • Experience is Balance.


  • Culture/Infrastructure/Sustainability (Similar awesome windows)
  • Economics of a happy visitor (Easy photo points; virtual or actual wildlife viewing is almost guaranteed; don’t feel nickeled and dimed (pay for extras only); bathrooms – lots)
  • Renewable energy (Nugget Creek hydro, ground source heat pump, etc.)
  • Increase Multi-use Trails; Diverse Trails Drive Economic Development (Rentals, guided hikes, hike-in ice climbing)
  • USFS, cruise ship operators, and City should cooperate in constructing electric light rail from downtown docks to glacier. This could help to subsidize city-wide light rail, reduce traffic, and reduce pollution.
  • More Revenue from Visitors (Specialize tours; fancy videos to see; lots of souvenirs; Glacier art museum entrance fee; lectures by visiting celebrities/experts; fundraiser hikes)

We Value

The public participated in a quick shout out exercise to identify pairs of values in which one “wins out” over the other. The values are shown below.

No Matter What

Each participant was then asked to complete a confidential “No matter what” do’s and don’t card to capture the most critical items or issues to create a successful MGRA and MGVC planning effort. By not presenting these to the public allowed participants to voice their thoughts. These ideas are being reviewed and will provide insight to the planning team and US Forest Service.

Closing Remarks

There was a brief Q&A session that explained next steps and overall project schedule. With the conclusion of the Q&A session, Brad Orr provided the closing  remarks and thanked everyone for their participation. The meeting was concluded at 8:50.

Innovation Week Workshop Summary

Tuesday, August 22nd a day long stakeholder meeting was held at the University of Alaska Southeast Recreation Center on the Juneau campus. Nearly 40 invited stakeholders attended including permit holders, local and state government agencies, cruise ship operators, transportation operators, environmental/conservation groups, education institutes, youth and wilderness programs, economic development groups, tourism marketing, cultural and heritage organizations, and other community groups. Also in attendance was key US Forest Service staff.

The meeting was facilitated by Amanda Happe of Bruce Mau Design and included the participation of the planning team’s subject matter experts that included transportation in national parks, sustainable tourism, economics, sustainable buildings, renewable energy, visitor center planning and others.

The welcome was provided by James King, Forest Service Regional Director of Mineral, Lands and Recreation and was followed by a summary of the meeting agenda and desired outcomes by Amanda Happe.

Stakeholders were asked to join one of three round table discussions that were of interested to them. The round tables were broken into:

  • Tourism and Economics (visitor industry, local visitation, economics and visitor trends)
  • Transportation (transit, trails, and roads)
  • Sustainability (buildings, energy, transit, and natural resources)

The stakeholders worked and shared ideas while completing over ten exercises over the course of the day. The results of each are captured below in the images. These exercises lead to the generation of two key summaries:

  • Criteria for Success
  • Idea 1.0

Working with the subject matter experts, criteria of success established benchmarks or quantifiable targets that the project could be weighed against. Each of the three groups developed their own criteria for success for the project.

The groups also generated their ideas for innovation called Ideas 1.0. Again the stakeholders and subject matter experts worked collaboratively to develop a full range of ideas for the planning effort related to their group interest.

Tourism and Economics




The content from the Criteria for Success and Ideas 1.0 formed the basis of discussion by the public at Meeting #5 held that evening at the Mendenhall Valley Library. The public refined  this material to generate community driven criteria for success and further develop ideas to create Ideas 2.0. These can be found in the Meeting #5 summary.

Closing Remarks

James King provided the closing remarks and thanked everyone for their participation.

Innovation Meeting: Subject Matter Experts

An important component of our Innovation meeting is including Subject Matter Experts to provide international and national insight for the MGRA planning. We are very excited to have their participation as part of Meeting #5 and hope you will join us for this interactive meeting with public. The meeting is on Tuesday, August 22nd at 7:00 pm at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. A short bio for each of the Subject Matter Experts is found below.

Sustainable Tourism
Rachel Dodds, PhD, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Rachel is a Professor at Ryerson University and the Director of the Hospitality and Tourism Research Association. Rachel is a specialist in the field of sustainable tourism who has over 20 years of experience within the tourism sector. She has worked on a number of projects worldwide in sustainable tourism, climate change, eco/adventure tourism, research and marketing. Rachel holds a PhD in sustainable tourism and policy from the UK and a Masters degree in tourism and business administration from Australia. She is currently a board member for Transportation Options, was a past board member for Canada’s first climate change and tourism NGO. Rachel has a passion for change and making tourism more sustainable. She is an expert in sustainable tourism understanding the need to optimize and manage man-made and natural risks for tourism.

Brian Vander Naald, PhD, University of Alaska Southeast

Brian is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Southeast and holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Miami University (Ohio), an M.A. in Economics from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oregon. He taught and conducted research in the Raymond F. Mikesell Lab for Environmental and Resource Economics at the University of Oregon. He has recently expanded his focus to include Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, Ecological Economics, and an interdisciplinary approach to Climate Change. His research agenda has evolved to include using various non-market valuation techniques to examine under-studied Ecosystem Services including glacier ecosystems and recently evaluated the recreation value of the Juneau area glacier ecosystems.

Renewable Energy
Alec Mesdag, Director of Energy Services, AVISTA, Juneau

Alec holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Oregon State University. He currently serves as Vice President & Director of Energy Services for Alaska Electric Light & Power. In his current role he manages demand-side energy programs for the utility, helping to influence customer actions to optimize the use of energy in Juneau. He has been actively engaged with the MGVC to investigate alternative power sources for the facility with a focus on looking at the entire energy needs and strategies of the facility from heating and cooling to illumination and transportation modes. He is involved in the community’s effort in electrifying Juneau’s transportation network including private vehicles, coaches and watercraft.

Transit Systems for Parks
Paul Jewel, Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, San Francisco, CA

Paul Jewel is a principal transportation planner with over 20 years of experience. Mr. Jewel brings a planning approach that balances the need to effectively handle the high volume of coach visitors with the need to minimize the negative impacts of buses and maximize the passenger experience. His experience includes improving the arrival experience, loading and unloading procedures and facilities, and specifying vehicle types including size and fuel type. His also specializes in community wide transportation planning and his firm recently completed the Juneau Transit Plan. Over the last decade Mr. Jewel has tended to direct most of his efforts towards demand and service studies for the National Parks Service (NPS) including work at Zion, Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and his studies are very relevant to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.

Sustainable Building Design
Brad Lilijequist, International Living Future Institute, Seattle, WA

Brad directs the Living Community Challenge and Net Zero Energy Programs for the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). ILFI is reinventing the human world to operate comfortably without fossil fuels and the city to be a place of ideal human habitat; maximizing human happiness and fruitfulness while benefiting the planet.
As director of the Institute’s Net Zero Energy and Living Community programs, Brad is at the forefront of a global transformation toward a carbon-free future. He directed development of the Petal and Net Zero Energy Certified zHome, the first multifamily zero net energy community in the United States, as well as Issaquah Fire Station 72, the world’s most energy efficient fire station and recipient of the international 2012 ASHRAE Technology award. Additionally, he is author of The Power of Zero: Learning From the World’s Leading Net Zero Energy Buildings. Brad has nearly three decades of experience catalyzing change in the fields of planning, environmental policy, urban design, construction management and sustainable building.

Recreation And Visitor Trends
Meilani Schijvens, Rain Coast Data, Juneau

Rain Coast Data is a Juneau based economics firm specializing in the economy of Southeast Alaska and visitor industry analysis and trends. Past projects include visitor industry analyses completed for Juneau, Yakutat, Wrangell, Prince of Wales, Sitka, Haines, the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, and work on Alaska Statewide Visitor Statistics publications. Ms. Schijvens has completed in-depth regional economic studies – including Southeast Alaska by the Numbers, the Southeast Alaska Economic Asset Map, and the Southeast Alaska Economic Plan 2020 – each with in-depth chapters on the Southeast Alaska visitor economy.

Innovation Meeting: Tuesday, August 22nd

As part of the ongoing planning efforts for the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA), Corvus Design will be hosting an evening meeting with the general public who have an interest in the MGRA to get input and share ideas with national and international subject matter experts. Come hear ideas on innovation and share your ideas for the 50-year vision for the MGRA. Topics covered will include industry trends, implementation ideas, and criteria for success. Invited subject matter experts will be in Juneau for this session and include experts on transportation in public parks, sustainable buildings and energy, sustainable tourism, branding and marketing, economics and the visitor industry, and others.

This is to be an interactive meeting on Tuesday, August 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Mendenhall Valley Library Community Meeting Room located at 3025 Riverside Drive. We hope you can join us.


In order to better understand the users of the MGRA and MGVC, we’re distributing a survey. This has two main purposes:

  1. People who have not visited, but will: To understand what they hope their visit will be like. This is to understand typical users and how they like to interact with visitor facilities when they visit them.
  2. People who have visited: To understand what their visit was like. This is to understand how they used the visitor areas and what their experience was like.

This information will help us to determine where emphasis should be placed for the development of visitor facilities. This will help us understand what can be improved with the current facilities, and what needs to be added (as needed) to improve experience and to ensure that a high quality visit is provided into the future.

We invite you to take this survey, and to share the link with others that have visited, or would like to in the future.

Please go to this link for the survey: MGRA Visitor Survey

Meeting #4 Summary

On the evening of Wednesday, April 26, approximately 60 people attended the fourth meeting for the MGRA/MGVC planning project hosted at the visitor center. This meeting summarized the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA) planning process to date and kicked off the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Unit (MGVC) master planning effort.

Brad Orr (District Ranger) and John Neary (MGVC Director) welcomed attendees and gave a summary of the larger two year planning effort for the MGRA and the MGVC.

Chris Mertl with Corvus Design gave a brief overview of the larger MGRA planning effort and the need to create a long term vision for the area. He introduced the master planning efforts for the MGVC Unit which focuses on making short term facility recommendations based on the MGRA long range planning effort and work to be developed at the MGVC.

As part of the introduction, the public was asked to introduce themselves and to indicate “if you were to bring a cruise ship passenger to the MGVC Unit, where is the first place you would take them to highlight the unit’s facilities and opportunities.” Responses were varied and all facilities within would be considered highlights of the MGVC Unit. Those with the most responses include:

  • Visitor Center
  • Steep Creek Trail (especially bear viewing area)
  • Trail of Time
  • Nugget Falls and Nugget Falls Trail
  • Photo Point Trail
  • Mendenhall Lake (especially in winter)

Public Input

The meeting included two exercises to receive public input on the MGVC master planning effort and to kick off this phase of work. Attendees were asked to break into smaller groups of 6-8 and to work together to discuss opportunities to incorporate innovation into the facility planning for the MGVC and to also identify areas within the MGVC that were currently being impacted or could possibly be impacted related to facilities, visitor experience and the surrounding resources.

Exercise #1: Innovation

Attendees were asked to break into small groups or round-tables to discuss opportunities for incorporating innovation into the planning effort for the MGVC. Individual tables were set up with their own area of focus and participants were encouraged to provide input at the table of most interest but to also circulate and visit other groups to provide input. The innovation areas of focus were divided into the following groups:

  • Sustainable Buildings
  • Transit and Transportation
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Renewable Energy
  • Interpretation
  • Recreation

Once the ideas were presented, the groups were asked to identify those that they believed were the highest priority innovation opportunities. A summary of the innovation listed is found below. Those with an asterisk (*) were identified as priorities but does not diminish the importance of the other innovation listed.

Sustainable Buildings
  • Design building as active sustainable displays*
  • Solar panels on roofs is only to set an example*
  • Collect gutter water for toilet flushing, energy generation, hydro power*
  • Use Nugget Falls to generate power (maybe further upstream)
  • Use water flowing into toilets to generate electrify
  • Hiker/biker campsite at campground
  • Winter/local coffee shop
  • Store body heat from tourists to use year round
  • Cycle gray water through a green roof
Transit and Transportation
  • Off site transit center with circulator to the area*
  • Provide peddle powered options*
  • Do away with buses Juneau wide by working with CBJ on light rail studies to show ridership is the limited factor to development, so require tour operators to use light rail. 1 million plus visitor is twice the amount needed to fund development*
  • Make the walk from the buses to visitor center spectacular: maybe raised walkway with view, electric or peddle powered boats to get to now receded glacier, access to rock point to access West glacier interpretive trail
  • Electric buses on a time schedule, similar to Denali Park
  • Quiet and pollution free busses
  • Charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Tram to upper elevators “to the ice”
  • Boat to Satellite Visitor Center on Rocky Point, or gondola from current visitor center to Rocky Point
  • Wildlife under/over passes
  • Provide bus drop and load route separate from all other traffic
  • East Glacier trailing head parking off site
  • Circulator brings folks to Visitors Center
Sustainable Tourism
  • Build and maintain a hut that hikers and overnight in (like the Alps) a series of hut to huts overlooking glacier*
  • Plan for increased interest in wildlife-sustainable management*
  • Limit number of transported visitor per day*
  • Develop hiker/biker campsite at campground (see Oregon State Park or some forest models – pay $5-10/person for shared area)*
  • Carrying capacity is exceeded: reduces quality experience so limit tourist and amount of time to experience place*
  • Control noise to maintain wildlife viewing opportunities, natural soundscape, reduced stress*
  • As glacier recedes, focus more on wildlife, bears, fish, birds, etc.
  • Consider a second site with viewing area of the Taku glacier
  • Rock climbing
  • Electric launches for transport across lake to ranger station and access to glacier.
  • Once ice is no long on lake, build a road on the left side for electric shuttle to ice interpretive center ice edge
  • Clean gavel out on Nugget Dam, install small hydro power station to make MGVC self sustaining for power
  • Spur trail of East Glacier to next ridge (bridge rebuilt over Nugget Creek) so glacier will be in view 50+ more years
  • Dispersed visitor areas
  • Provide new access point to view glacier that is either close or above
  • Put a Forest Service cabin on the rock peninsula with a view of the glacier
  • Information on mining ruins and activities on trails
  • Limit the season
  • Charging station for electric buses
  • Increase winter tourism
Renewable Energy
  • The primary reason for not developing light rail between the valley and town is insufficient ridership. Partner with CBJ to develop light rail to the glacier to do away with bus traffic, allowing the 1 million visitor to pay/support essential changes*
  • Rentable bicycle stations at 2-5 central spots (like Seattle has): airport, waterfront, MGVC*
  • Solar on roof of visitor center*
  • Heat pumps*
  • Clean out Nugget Creek dam and install 4-6 inch line to power station to make MGVC self sustaining for power*
  • Locally powered electric tram or other transportation to get people up high and close enough to be wowed by seeing and feeling (smell, sound, etc.) of the glacier
  • Off site transit center with electric shuttles to visitor area
  • Accumulated energy pressure pads in high visitor density areas – transfer energy from pressure to storage at high densities and create a lot of power
  • Have a coffee/pie shop and then do “Coffee with a Ranger” and learn cool stuff while enjoying you latte*
  • Virtual tourist of surface and cave to preserve for future generations*
  • Remote control cameras that are web based*
  • Waterfowl nesting (East) including “chick cam”*
  • Phenology trail – allow tourist to see an area over the course of years on their phones and add their own photos/entries. Focus on both westerns and local natural history of species*
  • Enhance opportunities for personal connections
  • Beaver-Salmon ecology
  • More interpretive signs using a variety of media in nontraditional ways
  • Maintain/improve remote camera projects: fish cam, beaver cam, gull cam, bear cam, etc. Real time as well as recorded clips, night camera, etc.
  • Guided wildlife viewing
  • Develop and app for diving into details of surrounding areas: flora and fauna, interviews, history, etc.
  • Build a classroom for field trips
  • Bike trail separate from roads and sidewalks in woods*
  • Launch cross country skiing from East side*
  • Video location with web cams for use with phones*
  • Tram to top of glacier*
  • Leaving the bus parking dirt covered
  • Rock climbing
  • Mountain biking trail times
  • Bridge over Nugget Falls with trail
  • Spur off East Glacier bridge over creek to next ridge to see glacier 50+ years
  • Tethered hot air balloons (10 min trips) for spectacular photo views
  • More winter recreation: Back country skiing, cross country skiing, skating, snowshoe rental booth, ice caves, aurora watching, refreshment stand
  • Giant Zamboni machine
  • World class pie! Available year round
  • Develop hiker/biker campsite at campground
  • Allow for parking lot parking after midnight on big northern lights viewing nights.

Each group presented this lists to others in attendance.

Exercise #2: Areas of Impact

Attendees were again asked to break into small groups or round-tables to identify areas that are currently being impacted within the MGVC or could be impacted. Discussion was categorized into three areas of impacts. Impacts to facilities, impacts to visitor experience, and impacts to the natural resources/environment. Impacts were located and notated on large scale maps of the MGVC.  Participants were asked to identify the severity of the existing impact (1-minor, 2-moderate, 3-significant) and to identify the corrective action for each: minor construction, major construction, maintenance or management. Images of the session and maps created are found below.


The meeting concluded by thanking those who participated and directing attendees to this website for project updates and announcements.

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