The morning of Tuesday, September 13th the planning team and USFS had an initial session with a few companies/groups/organizations that are active within the MGRA/MGVC. The intent of these sessions was to learn how groups are using the areas, start planning conversations, and to educate the planning team based on how the MGRA/MGVC relates to their missions.

Part 1: USFS Overview

James King, USFS Regional Director of Recreation, Lands, Minerals, welcomed everyone and gave an outline of the project and a quick overview of his vision for the MGRA. The MGRA needs to plan for both the short term and the next 50 years while understanding the Mendenhall Glacier is receding. His conversation focused on resolving issues at the MGVC while meeting the needs of the locals who also use the MGRA. James Neary, USFS Director, Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center gave his insight into the project, its opportunities, challenges, and success stories. John discussed how people use the MGRA and new projects and improvements planned for the MGRA and MGVC. He echoed James’ comment that the MGRA is used by a wide variety of users and we must ensure that they have the best possible experience while visiting whether they be off a cruise ship for a short period of time or someone who hikes the Dredge Lakes Unit everyday.

Part 2: Presentations

Juneau Tourism Trends

Part 3: Small Group Facilitated Sessions

The twenty-five participants were broken into small groups to discuss current MGRA management, use, successes and critical issues and related them back to their company, organization or agency’s mission. The small group facilitated sessions were broken into the following:

  • Tourism and economics, recreation and special use permits
  • Biophysical, climate change and interpretation
  • Built environment, transportation and sustainability

Each group went though the same exercise that involved both spatial discussion on MGRA maps and sharing ideas with the group. A summary of each small group facilitated session is below.

Part 4: Small Groups Report Back

Each group then elected a spokesperson to summarize the small discussion and present results to the entire session. Summaries of each of the groups are presented below.

Recreation and Tourism Group:

What does the MGRA do to strengthen the mission of your organization?

  • Ice and ice views
  • Outstanding setting for making memories
  • Creating great memories for our guests
  • Ice, lake, river
  • Commercial activity

What does the MGRA do that negatively impacts your mission? (Weakness)

  • Limited access and capacity
  • Limited infrastructure limits commercial activity
  • Lack of bike riding trails
  • Configuration of roads and parking

What new things could happen/be at the MGRA that could support your mission?

  • More capacity
  • Use days – flexible/adjustable
  • Electric boat tours (climate change statement)
  • More bike riding trails available
  • Spread out visitors to lake and hillsides with electric boat/tramway
  • Capitalize on historic aspects/assets

What at the MGRA prevents you from fulfilling your mission?

  • Glacial retreat
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Lack of youth engagement in planning
  • Global warming

Biophysical, Climate Change, and Interpretation Group:

What does the MGRA do to strengthen the mission of your organization?

  • Education of public
  • People and wildlife management at Steep Creek
  • Outstanding natural resources
  • Opportunity to experience nature up close

What does the MGRA do that negatively impacts your mission? (Weakness)

  • People and wildlife management
  • Visitor basic needs
  • Opportunity to experience nature up close
  • Visitor congestion
  • Demand that is hard to fulfill

What new things could happen/be at the MGRA that could support your mission?

  • Expanding destinations
  • Improve transportation (vehicle and people)
  • People and wildlife management
  • Solutions that solve multiple challenges/opportunities

What at the MGRA prevents you from fulfilling your mission?

  • Funding
  • Lack of appropriate infrastructure
  • Disappearing ice
  • Wildlife habituation
  • Challenges of urban/wild interface
  • Different missions for partners

Built Environment, Transportation, and Sustainability Group:

What does the MGRA do to strengthen the mission of your organization?

  • Economic driver for community
  • Ice viewing
  • Great access
  • Wide variety of uses and opportunities
  • Good trail building substrate
  • Diverse trail opportunities

What does the MGRA do that negatively impacts your mission? (Weakness)

  • Flooding condition in Dredge Lakes Unit and on lake surface
  • Transit inefficiency
  • Manage buses
  • Initial visitor experience at the visitor center
  • Managing surges of visitors
  • Planning for growth and access
  • Actual connection point to community
  • Toilet capacity

What new things could happen/be at the MGRA that could support your mission?

  • More/better celebrated access points to community
  • New accesses – stages (5 minute photo stop, future visitor center site)
  • West side access – views and caves, etc.
  • Improved trail to spectacular glacial view
  • 2nd or 3rd visitor center
  • Stream restoration for salmon and bears
  • Improved sustainable transit
  • Partnerships between USFS and visitor industry
  • “Touch” the glacier
  • Keeping some places quiet
  • Connect loop trails in Dredge Lakes area

What at the MGRA prevents you from fulfilling your mission?

  • Congestion = poor visitor experience
  • Access/bottleneck
  • Not enough money
  • Funding
  • Poor flow of vehicles and people
  • Frequent glacier outbursts/floods and beaver dam floods
  • Uncertainty regarding glacial retreat and visitor trends
  • Federal processes and funding processes to make improvements are slow
  • Ability to keep up with visitor trends

Summary Results of Facilitated Session (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats)

Input from all three groups were summarized onto a single sheet to consolidate what was heard during the small group report back sessions. Many of the groups identified common issues, opportunities and constraints, while some had unique issues related to their mission. The summary sheet is below.

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