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Charrette #1 Summary

On the evening of Wednesday, September 7, the first project charrette was hosted at the Juneau Ranger District to introduce the project to the public. The introduction was led by District Ranger Brad Orr and Regional Director of Recreation, Lands and Minerals, James King. They outlined the project and its goals to the approximate 75 people who attended.


Following the introduction the Project Manager for Corvus Design, Christopher Mertl led the public through a series of introductory exercises to understand how the public uses the MGRA. The public began by sharing their favorite memories of MGRA. Some notable highlights include:

  • Skating on Mendenhall Lake under the northern lights
  • Visiting the ice caves
  • Eating pie at Joe and Kitty’s Café in the 1960-70’s
  • Running the many trails
  • Bringing friends and family to the visitor center
  • Skiing across Mendenhall Lake with the wolf, Romeo
  • Touching the glacier for the first time
  • Moto-cross racing
  • Watching bears feeding on salmon along Steep Creek
  • Climbing on the icebergs on Mendenhall Lake
  • Getting proposed to/engaged at the Glacier
  • Attending the Fireside Chats
  • Skiing and hiking in complete solitude
  • Ice climbing and camping on the glacier
  • Flying RC planes
  • Summiting Mount McGinnis
  • Watching the northern lights from Skater’s Cabin
  • Skinny dipping in Mendenhall River
  • Mountain biking the many trails and the frozen lake
  • Taking my children to Nugget Falls for the first time


The second exercise asked the public what activities they participate in at the MGRA. A summary of the activities included:

  • Hiking the trails (most popular response)
  • Dogwalking on the trails (second most popular)
  • Running on the trails (popular response)
  • Mountain biking on the trails (popular response)
  • Quiet walks away from tourists
  • Hiking off trail
  • Hiking to the surrounding peaks
  • Visiting the ice caves
  • Swimming
  • Walking trails at night
  • Mountain biking on the frozen lake
  • Skate skiing
  • Ice skating (popular response)
  • Playing hockey
  • X Country skiing (popular response)
  • Sledding
  • Ice climbing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Shoeshoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Wildlife viewing (popular response)
  • Habitat restoration
  • Watching the salmon
  • Bear viewing (popular response)
  • Watching the glacier
  • Bird watching
  • Beaver Patrol activities
  • Looking at nature (popular response)
  • Photography
  • Painting
  • Watching northern lights
  • Attending Fireside Chats
  • Berry picking
  • Picnicking
  • Camping
  • Flying RC airplanes
  • Exploring history
  • Visiting relic areas
  • Avoiding tourists
  • Improving mental health
  • Kite boarding
  • Wading
  • Guiding visitors
  • Sharing with visiting family and friends (popular response)
  • Going to Visitor Center
  • Sightseeing
  • Learning/interpretation
  • Viewing Nugget Falls
  • Exploring with children
  • Being a tour guide
  • People watching


The third exercise broke the above activities into common groups and included:

  • Hiking, walking, running and dogwalking on trails
  • Winter activities
  • Adventure activities (ice climbing, mountain biking, off trail, kayaking, etc)
  • Wildlife and nature viewing and photography
  • Sharing and exploring with friends and family


Each activity group had facilitated discussion on where these activities are occurring, what’s needed to make them successful and identify potential areas that could support these activities where they are not currently occurring. Participants rotated to the various groups of interest and marked these locations on maps of the MGRA.


The meeting concluded with a question and answer session and outlining next steps for the project.

Project Overview

The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA) Conceptual Development Plan will guide the development of recreation infrastructure in the MGRA accommodating the anticipated visitation needs over the next 20 years with a goal of addressing all anticipated demand, while providing a vision for the next 50 years. The geographic scope of this effort will include all three Units of the MGRA (Visitor Center, Dredge Lakes and West Glacier) a total area of nearly 6,000 acres.

The plan will include innovative planning solutions throughout the MGRA, to accommodate all that want to visit and experience the Mendenhall Glacier and its surrounding landscapes; while balancing the needs of the visitors with the directive for resource protection. The project will be developed within an inclusive process that allows public input and review of the Plan by residents, stakeholders and visitors. The project is expected to take two years to guide future facility developments within the MRGA.

The project is located in Juneau, Alaska and within the Juneau Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest and is under the management of the USDA Forest Service. Corvus Design, Inc., an Alaskan based landscape architectural and planning firm, was selected by the USFS as the contractor for this project.


Welcome to the Project Website

Welcome. The MGRA project blog will be the location to record information we gather during the project and to keep you updated on what is going on. The most recent posting will be on the top of this page with previous postings in chronological order. We will be adding resources and materials, ways for you to provide input and comments, and posting project documentation as it is developed.

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