The afternoon of Monday, September 12th the Corvus Design core planning team toured portions of the three units of the MGRA with USFS staff to get an overview of use, issues and opportunities for each unit. The afternoon sessions included visiting key facilities and trails and understanding how the public uses the MGRA.
First Stop: West Glacier Unit
The team met at Skater’s Cabin and discussed the public’s use of Skater’s Cabin, the Mendenhall Campground and the improvements slated for 2017 at the West Glacier Trailhead. Improvements include a separated path that will parallel Skater’s Cabin Road and help reduce pedestrian and vehicular conflicts. The team walked to the new public and commercial lake launch facilities to observe and understand commercial use of the area. Other items of discussion related to the West Glacier Unit included flooding, restrooms, parking, the West Glacier Trail and issues related to accessing the Ice Caves and the various users of the lake and river, both public and commercial.
Second Stop: Dredge Lakes Unit
The team next met at the Back Loop Bridge Trailhead and hiked into the Dredge Lake Unit stopping along Dredge Lake Trail and Dike Trail to observe recent trail damage caused by flooding, as well as talk about beaver issues and the current management efforts being carried out by the Beaver Patrol. Other items of discussion included habitat restoration projects by Trout Unlimited, angling, wildlife viewing and other uses of the Unit including walking, running, mountain biking and dogwalking. Conversations included the positive efforts by dog owners and the Greatful Dogs in keeping the trails clean and the need for additional trash and dog bags. Discussions included trail erosion and the desire to elevate trails to prevent flooding.
Third Stop: Visitor Center Unit
The team’s final stop was the Visitor Center Unit and were joined by additional USFS staff associated with the Unit. At the Steep Creek Trail the USFS staff talked about its history and its success as a fish and bear observation facility. The team observed how people use the facility, how wildlife moves through the area and its interpretive facilities. The team moved to the Pavilion to talk about glacier issues, how people use the pavilion and climate change and impacts to the glacier. USFS staff talked about the interpretive programs offered at the various locations within the Visitor Center Unit. Lastly the team visited the Visitor Center. The team observed how people move through and use the visitor center, its issues and the needs of visitors. The team talked about the history of the visitor center and the historic use of the entire MGRA. A focus of discussion was how visitors use the immediate areas around the visitor center and its trail system.
Some members of the team were treated to an exciting encounter with a resident female bear and her three cubs.