Author: corvusak (page 1 of 2)

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.

Meeting/Charrette 4 Announced: Wednesday, April 26th at 5:00 pm at MGVC

The fourth meeting for the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area planning effort will be on Wednesday, April 26th at 5:00 pm at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

The fourth meeting will provide the public the opportunity to understand the planning process to date on the MGRA Draft Conceptual Development Plan and how the planning team is using quantification methods to provide the desired visitor experience while protecting the MGRA’s resources and to provide a long term vision within a changing landscape.

The meeting will also introduce the planning effort for the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Unit which is just getting underway.

We hope to see you.

MGRA Draft Conceptual Development Plan

Corvus Design and our planning team has been busy compiling the MGRA Draft Conceptual Development Plan (DCDP). The USFS provided their comments and input on the 50% DCDP in mid February and we have since been expanding the document to get it to the next level of completeness. Since submitting the 50% document we have  updated the analysis and created quantifiable content for the conceptual plan development and working towards a preferred alternative concept. We plan on having this document reviewed by the USFS in early April and a draft released to the public shortly afterwards once approved. We anticipate this document will be complete in late summer once we have had the opportunity to get input from cruise ship visitors and include their data in the development of a preferred plan.

Charrette # 3 Summary

The third planning charrette (workshop) was held the evening of Wednesday, November 9th. The intent of this session was two-fold. To gain confirmation that the inventory mapping of the MGRA that was developed from charrettes 1 and 2 input was correct; and to introduce the planning process to the public in the form of a group planning exercise.

Chris Mertl of Corvus Design welcomed roughly 35 participants to the charrette. The use inventory maps were displayed and participants were encouraged to mark up and draw on the maps to provide corrections or update information.

Brad Orr, Juneau District Ranger, provided the introduction to tonight’s charrette. Chris gave a brief status update on the progress of the planning effort. He reiterated that this project is a two year process and that we are currently in the first MGRA phase. Within the current MGRA planning phase we are in the Data Analysis phase (identified by the green arrow).

Planning Exercise

For the planning exercise we developed a simulation designed to illustrate the planning process and how complex it can be. Currently, the MGRA visitor demand is greater than the existing visitor capacity. The goal for this entire planning effort is to create a good visitor experience where visitor capacity meets visitor demand. This concept drove the development of the group planning exercise. The exercise included three scenarios: meeting current demand, anticipated demand in 10 years and anticipated demand in 25 years. Rough estimates of future demand were created based on growth of the cruise ship industry, independent travelers, and use by local residents, roughly 2% annually.

A map of the MGRA was divided into squares based on a preliminary site analysis. The squares were then categorized into three development types, Prime, Limited, and Restricted. Prime squares would support any sort of development (these squares had minimal environmental concerns), Limited squares excluded high density development (these squares had some environmental concerns), and Restricted squares (these squares had considerable environmental concerns) only allowed trails and roads. These development limitations drove the planning process when different scenarios were introduced. A series of development cubes were used to represent visitor capacity. Based on the scenario provided, participants had to create a good visitor experience by adding visitor capacity (density cubes) to the MGRA board as the visitor demand increased for each scenario without detracting from the overall visitor experience.

Development Cubes

High Density (Visitor Center) = Purple

Medium Density (Pavilion, High Use Trail, or similar) = Blue

Bus Parking = Orange

Car Parking = Yellow

Drop-off = Red

Voting Cube = Green

Participants were divided into six groups and each group was allowed to ‘play’ out three initial scenarios, Existing Demand, 10 year Demand, and 25 year Demand. As density cubes were placed on the board participants had to balance them with the needed parking cubes to support the facilities. Drop-off cubes could be placed on the board near any density cube to allow visitors access to that site. If any group member disagreed with the placement of a cube a voting round was initiated with the green voting cube. A majority vote or consensus was needed in order to move on to the next round. Each group recorded their progress after each scenario by answering two questions. “Why did you place your density cubes where you did?” and “Why did you place your parking cubes where you did?” Several additional bonus scenarios were revealed to each group after the first three scenarios were developed. These included hypothetical situations like instituting a shuttle system for the whole recreation area, installing a pie shop, effects of a major outburst flood (jökulhlaup), and finally the disappearance of the glacier from the view of the existing visitor center. Each group addressed these hypothetical scenarios with different solutions and recorded their results.

After all groups ‘played’ through all scenarios their results and findings were reported back to the entire room.

Below are the third scenarios of each group (25 year Projected Demand).

Animated GIFs

We have included a summarized version in the form of an animated GIF of each scenario. You can compare through the GIF the different approaches each group took as they attempted to balance the need for more visitor capacity as visitor demand increased.

Scenario 1 – Meet Existing Demand

Currently, the MGRA visitor capacity is below the current visitor demand. Groups had to add density cubes and parking cubes to meet current visitor demand.

Scenario 2 – Meet 10 year Projected Demand

It is projected that visitor demand will increase 2% per year so after 10 years each group had to add additional density and parking cubes to meet the projected visitor demand.

Scenario 3 – Meet 25 year Projected Demand

Each group had to add additional density cubes and parking cubes to meet the 25 year projected visitor demand.

Scenario 4 – Glacier Gone

This was the final bonus scenario. We presented the hypothetical situation where the Mendenhall Glacier had completely disappeared from the view of the current visitor center. Each group then had to decide how this would affect the planning process for the MGRA. The groups were also asked if any new trail segments were desired that would improve access or the user experience. New trails are shown as green lines. The following GIF presents each group’s results for comparison.

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