Below are the comments we have received from the comment collector (where people have given permission for us to post their comment). They are listed by the date they were submitted, with the newest comments at the top.

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I am concerned the future plans for the MGRA center is mostly focused on tourism and not protecting and building on the recreational activities the local public enjoys.

The Gastineau Aeromodelers Society (G.A.S.), uses the shared use bus parking lot (by a paid USFS permit), can only use the flying site/parking lot until the tour buses are gone after 7:30pm May-Sept (all summer) and CBJ uses the site to dump snow in the winter (cannot fly model planes during those operations either). They are already very limited for a paid permit.

I am disappointed the future plans show basically no effort to protect this local recreational hobby as it plants a seed to young aviators and future aircraft mechanics in an industry that desperately needs them.

At this point the USFS MGRA future plan appears to restrict and limit the radio control airplane club to a point where enjoying their recreational hobby at the MGRA will become unfruitful for the future model aviation hobbyists.

My recommendation would be to work with G.A.S. to sustain their local recreational activity for future generations. If not at the bus parking lot, then provide them with another agreement within the MGRA to maintain and grow on. IE: Dredge Lake system access (and sustainability) like they had in the 70’s. (Name withheld by request) 8/12/2018

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It’s good to see plans for the future of Mendenhall Glacier, anticipating more and more visitors over the years. I went to one meeting about this topic where one of the speakers said that what most visitors want to do is to TOUCH the glacier and especially, the FACE of the glacier. I have worked with visitors to Juneau for 25 years and never once heard this request. Yes, they want to get to the glacier and SEE it but if access were made for them all to touch it, particularly the face, the glacier will be gone much faster than even the global warming and climate effects will have. Please don’t provide a movable platform/visitor center that will allow anyone and everyone to touch the glacier, especially the face. For those visitors who pay for a helicopter or go to extraordinary lengths to hike to some point up the glacier, ok, but not easy access for everyone’s 98.6 degree hands to touch (and melt) more of our ever increasingly endangered glacier. Thank you. (Posted By: Vicki Campbell) 7/26/2018

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Dear Sirs,

I wish to comment on the new plan for “upgrading” and “developing” the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau AK. I’ve lived in Juneau 45 years. This location gets serious use by us locals, and during the summer, there are many thousands who come each day on buses from the giant cruise ships. My main comments to please be noted are:

Do Not tear down the visitor center!! If you are going to add another, great, but don’t tear this one down! It is excellent, and it can supplement the new one.

Do Not allow motorized boating on the lake! Over the past few years, tour companies have added boating tours, where people paddle the boats, that is fine. There should be No motorized boats allowed!

I’ve heard tourists complain that they “can’t even get a hot dog” at the glacier. To damn bad! They are travelling on the floating buffet lines, an there are dozens of food options in town, and if they are so hungry and didn’t bring anything with them to the glacier, then it is only an 11 mile trip back to town, where they can feast again. Food options at the glacier of Not Needed.

Please make sure these comments get to whomever needs to see them. Thank you. (Posted By: Kurt Dzinich) 1/17/2018

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The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is a spectacular place for both local and out of town visitors. Today, current visitor use exceeds the capacity that MGRA was designed to accommodate. In planning for even more visitors, careful consideration must be given to a number of issues:

1) Above all, we should strive to preserve the unique natural setting that makes MGRA special – salmon spawning stream, bears, mountain goats, beavers, nesting birds, and other wildlife; mountain scenery; access to hiking trails; quiet muscle-powered watercraft including kayaks and canoes; glacier views; and interpretive trails.

2) Transporting people – there are excellent examples in the United States of eliminating individual automobiles and using shuttles to transport people to and from areas within popular parks and recreation areas – Zion National Park is an excellent example. I strongly support a design that would transport people by renewable energy-powered bus to an off-site staging area, and then transfer people via renewable energy-powered shuttle to the visitor center area. Regardless, do not sacrifice wildlife habitat for parking areas.

3) Volume of people – consider a timed-entry system in order to meter the number of people visiting at any one time. Machu Picchu in Peru is a great example that uses timed entry, providing a more enjoyable, less crowded experience for all visitors.

4) Motorized vehicles – I do not support the use of motorized vehicles regardless of how they are powered. Part of the allure of places like MGRA is to experience it at a slower pace, powered only by the human body without motorized assistance. Only kayaks, canoes, and muscle-powered bicycles should be permitted. Electric wheelchairs for mobility-impaired people would be the only exception.

5) Setting an excellent example to emulate – in attempting to accommodate increased visitor use to MGRA, let’s strive to design a state-of-the-art system that takes into account carbon emissions, green building, renewable energy, a quiet and uncrowded visitor experience, wildlife sensitivity, and respect to the natural environment. We have the opportunity today to design a system that can be the model for all places to emulate going forward. (Posted By: Amy Gulick) 6/6/2018

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Thank you for working to create a jewel in the crown Mendenhall Glacier visitor center. Since Alaska is experiencing double the rate of changes, our MGVC can inspire people from around the world: electric vehicles only and combusters not allowed; buildings heated with heat pumps and most up to date Alaska heating materials; street/path lights with solar panels or whatever renewable best works; educational exhibit detailing the MGVC renewables; no new paved parking lots since pavement adds to earth heat; it is fine to give option of able bodied people walking more and cruise ship diesel buses parking in the current dirt lot and electric trains or carts transporting people as needed to new center; materials used throughout chosen for their recycled goodness and green aspects; minimum loss of trees and habitat for the new buildings; creative use of stationary bike pedal power for some energy needs like small specific applications where visitors could take turns pedaling and power an exhibit; use of wind power or elton wheels if possible. Thank you for your most creative collaboration to show off Juneau’s renewables. (Posted By: Lin Davis) 6/4/2018

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I submit that any additional boat traffic on the lake is the wrong way to proceed. Building a new visitor center on the west-side rock peninsula would provide a permanent view of the glacier. An alternative site would be an east-side visitor center on the back side of Mt. Bullard, 500-800 feet higher, and a mile toward the Juneau Ice Field from the current visitor center. Place funding proposed for the new 10,000 square foot east-side pavilion into a new properly positioned visitor center instead. Eliminating an un-necessary passenger ferry operation will save millions that can be used to build land-based infrastructure. Screwing up the view across Mendenhall Lake with a bunch of ferry boats is an abomination; tourists who come to view an Alaska glacier in its pristine setting will tell all their friends of their disappointment. Locals will see it as another intrusion in their backyard. Some sort of land-based transportation system would be less intrusive. For the east-side, an electric tram through a Mt. Bullard tunnel or aerial trams (enough trams to handle expected capacity) around it, should be considered. For the west-side, an extension of the current spur would be constructed to access the new center. Neither of these would have near the visual impact as the boat system. To placate the locals who object to further tourist activity on the west-side, warming huts, bathrooms, and access to Mendenhall Lake could be provided at the current east-side location of the visitor center. The existing, expensive-to-maintain visitor center building could be razed. The proposed ferry boat system seems to fall far short of capacity to handle even 10% of the projected 4,000 visitors per hour. Why build a system that is under-capacity at the outset and that may become obsolete in a few short years as the glacier recedes? (Posted By: Dean Harris) 6/4/2018

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It is incredibly important that the MGRA acts as a symbol of progress toward a more sustainable future in Juneau. Being the most visited reminder of climate change in our region, the MGRA absolutely must be at the cutting edge of renewable technology and ecological responsibility. I agree with all points suggested by the Renewable Juneau group: Smart, energy efficient design is cost-effective and provides a better visitor experience. We support the use of electric vehicles for access to the MGRA, as well as incentives for companies that invest in electric vehicles. We support a traffic-free zone near the visitor center and off-site parking for private and tour vehicles. An electric shuttle could get more visitors to the main facilites. We support on-site hydroelectric generation. We must continue to be able to access the glacier well into the future. And most importantly: The MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, just adopted by the CBJ Assembly, which sets a goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. It is entirely possible and achievable. Lets do it. (Posted By: Kanaan Bausler) 6/2/2018

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Conservation and energy efficient building and property design is cost-effective and provides a better visitor experience. I support facilities improvements and new construction that heat/cool with local renewable sourced energy. CO2 emissions-free fueled vehicles will also provide a better visitor experience. I support US Forest Service incentives for vendors/contractors who use electric vehicles for access to the MGRA.

Traffic management near the visitor center needs to reflect the demand. During the busiest hours or days, only off-site parking should be in place and used for private and tour vehicles. During these times, electric shuttle(s) could move visitors to the main facilities.

The MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, adopted by the CBJ Assembly. It sets a Juneau internal goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. MGRA should review the suggestions in this Strategy and plan to implement those most appropriate to the physical facilities and visitor experience/educational program at the Visitor Center. Thank you for planning for the future. (Posted By: Nancy Waterman) 5/31/2018

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We fully support the proposed Option 1: electric circulator to move cruise ship passengers from the shown remote parking area on the edge of the site to the visitor center campus. We do not support at all Option 2 that proposes commercial vehicles/motor coaches access to the visitor center campus with more bus parking. We feel strongly that the lake front should be kept as wild and tourist free as possible. It would be a huge mistake to create more parking here for buses and summer traffic. The MGRA is an opportunity to experience wild Alaska in it’s pristine natural setting, away from a field of paved parking lots, and a mulitude of buses blocking our view of the glacier and lake. Please, let’s not do this. Let’s keep the MGRA wild and special for everyone.

We only support: 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.

We fully support the improved Lakefront Trail linking the Visitor Center to the Mendenhall campground and Skater’s Cabin. We feel this is one of our most important improvements of the MGRA Master Plan and will have a huge positive recreational impact. Hardened trails in the Dredge Lake area with a bridge across the Mendenhall River for pedestrians, bikes, skiers, and ski tract setters would open up a huge new area for recreation to everyone.

WE support this concept for water front docks for only human powered watercraft. Electric watercraft should only be permitted after review and comment by the public.

Additional off street parking for these three trails is very important for our family to access the trails. We highly support this concept and as a low cost improvement to the MGRA trail system. (Posted By: Jeffrey Wilson) 5/31/2018

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Juneau has some amazing natural resources that exist in only a small number of places around the world, and these resources, such as the Mendenhall Glacier, bring many people to Juneau. As stewards of the glaciers in SE Alaska (and participants of our local economy which benefits from tourism), it falls on us to care for the glaciers and try to maintain them. This is a monumental task currently, when temperatures (local and worldwide) are increasingly warmer and setting new records, and efforts to preserve the glacier should be serious and take aim at the silent culprits behind current warming trends. In pursuit of this effort, the MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, which sets a goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. On-site hydroelectric generation might be a good opportunity to provide renewable energy to the nearby facilities of MGRA/MGVC while making progress towards the recently adopted Renewable Energy Strategy. A smart, energy-efficient redesign of the area will also be cost-effective and can provide visitors with a better experience. I support the use of electronic vehicles for access to the MGRA as well as incentives for companies that invest in electric vehicles to provide access to the MGRA. I also support a traffic-free zone near the visitor center and off-site parking for private and tour vehicles – an electric shuttle could easily move visitors to the main facilities of the MGRA and MGVC. It is very important that the Mendenhall Glacier remain for years to come, and that locals continue to have access to it far into the future. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment. (Posted By: Elisabeth Genaux) 5/29/2018

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Smart, energy efficient design is cost-effective and provides a better visitor experience. We support the use of electric vehicles for access to the MGRA, as well as incentives for companies that invest in electric vehicles. We support a traffic-free zone near the visitor center and off-site parking for private and tour vehicles. An electric shuttle could get more visitors to the main facilities. We support on-site hydroelectric generation. The MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, just adopted by the CBJ Assembly, which sets a goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. We must continue to be able to access the glacier well into the future. (Posted By: Emily Kane) 5/28/2018

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I support 1) use of a maximum number/percentage of electric vehicles at and around the MGVC. 2) a system of transporting visitors from off-site (like the present bus parking lot) to the center itself. If the lot and pick-up point was near the southwest boundary of Glacier Spur it could pick up people now coming by city bus and walking the bike path. (Not sure the CBJ bus people would welcome this change.) 3) a system where reasonable numbers of visitors can be transported across the lake to see (from land or water) the ice up-close, but safely. This would be part of a longer term plan to “see” the glacier as it continues to retreat. 4) hydroelectric generation on-site IF it can be accomplished without ruining the aesthetics of Nugget Falls. 5) widening the Nugget Falls Trail to lessen pedestrian congestion. Or completing what is now an unofficial loop at times of low to medium lake levels. 6) constructing a viewing platform somewhere between the upper Steep Creek Bridge and the steps to the “summit” of the East Glacier Loop. (Posted By: Richard Stokes) 5/25/2018

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It is my hope that part of the renovations will include parking with electric chargers. It is well documented that Juneau is shifting heavily to zero-emissions vehicles (https://www.greenbiz.com/article/juneau-makes-strides-electric-transportation) to reduce greenhouse gasses that contribute to the melting of the Mendenhall Glacier. Including car chargers would be consistent with the community efforts and mission of the park to preserve the Glacier and Park for future generations. (Posted By: Emil Mackey) 5/25/2018

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Smart, energy efficient design is cost-effective and provides a better visitor experience. I support the use of electric vehicles for access to the MGRA, as well as incentives for companies that invest in electric vehicles I support on-site hydroelectric generation. The MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, just adopted by the CBJ Assembly, which sets a goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. (Posted By: Nancy Waterman) 5/24/2018

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We enthusiastically support environmentally sound improvements to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreational Area (MGRA). And we particularly recognize and support the value of “our home glacier” as an amazing asset and educational tool as we experience climate change impacts and seek to implement climate solutions. The same improvements that address climate change can provide a better and more cost-effective visitor experience, including clean, quiet electric vehicle access and a traffic-free zone near the visitors’ center. There should be off-site parking, well away from the lake front, for all private and tour vehicles, with non-polluting shuttle service available. We want to hear more about many ideas being generated for year-round responsible access, including cross-country ski trails and facilities and a pedestrian bridge connecting the campground with the Dredge Lakes and visitors’ center areas. The bridge could provide potential access to improved visitor-friendly and ADA accessible trails on relatively flat terrain. The MGRA should clearly align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, helping to insure the sustainable recreational access and educational value of this area for generations to come. (Posted By: Karen & Jeff Wilson) 5/24/2018

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The MGRA should align with the goals of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, just adopted by the CBJ Assembly, which sets a goal of 80% renewable power in all sectors by 2045. (Posted By: Jonathan Mitchell) 5/24/2018

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The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is a Juneau treasure. It is Juneau’s signature attraction for tourists, while providing a diversity of recreational and educational opportunities for local residents. I appreciate that the Forest Service is taking steps to plan for the future of the area, to address issues of increasing visitation, congestion, and the long-term loss of glacier views. I strongly support making the MGRA a model of sustainable development, using renewable energy and reducing the climate impacts of visitation. This means keeping buses away from the glacier to lower the visual and ecological impact. It should be a unique place to learn about climate change, and how to mitigate its impacts. Development of the area should be consistent with the goals of the CBJ’s Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy, including powering the community with 80% renewable energy by 2045. Buildings should be models of energy efficiency and be heated by renewable hydroelectricity. Motorized transportation to, and within the area, should also be powered by renewable energy. Thank you for considering my comments, and for the work the Forest Service is doing to ensure that the MGRA continues to be a major Juneau asset and a model of sustainable development. (Name withheld by request) 5/20/2017

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I am appalled by the size of some of your ideas. If you’re going to build a parking lot (Coach parking for 50-60 buses), I hope you will figure out what to do with the degraded forest area during the months there are not so many buses there. I am not sure that adding more roadway (separate tram) is appropriate either. Why are you suddenly willing to have food sold, when we are still learning not to eat at the glacier? I do like the idea of reworking Steep Creek and even building an underpass. The ideas of improving the trails to encourage local use and connections are good. (rerouting off stream banks and lake shore) Please make sure that besides composting toilets you handle solid waste to maximize recycling. (Posted By: Anne Fuller) 5/18/2018

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The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area provides a diversity of recreational and educational opportunities for local Juneau residents. At the same time, it is is Juneau’s signature attraction for tourists. It is excellent that your agency is beginning to plan for the future of the area. It is especially important that you address the increasing number of visitors, the congestion, and the long-term loss of glacier views due to the glacier relentlessly receding. I urge you to make the MGRA a model of sustainable development, to use renewable energy and to reduce the climate impacts of visitation. It should be a unique place for visitors to learn about climate change, and how to mitigate its impacts. Further, development of the area should be consistent with Juneau’s Renewable Energy Strategy, the goals of which include powering the community with 80% renewable energy by 2045. Buildings should be models of energy efficiency and be heated by renewable hydroelectricity. Motorized transportation to, and within the area, should also be powered by renewable energy. Thank you. (Posted By: Larri Spengler) 5/18/2018

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I would like to see on the master plan for the future of the MGVC ideas for electric buses, small teams, less cars and buses, contained tourists, and start to limit the numbers out there, and though it isn’t s part of the plan, limit tourists in general. This ought to be a model for the future of sustainability mitigating the effects of climate change. (Posted By: Pat White) 5/18/2018

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I deeply appreciate non-motorized communing with the myriad health and peace promoting activities available around the glacier. Kayaking and paddleboarding in the summer are fabulous, restorative pastimes. Motor boats would truly be hideous at many levels: fuel spillage, noise, cheapening of the respectful effort of more appropriate access. I strongly urge developers to allow the parking lot to return to a more natural state and to bring tourists, in limited numbers, via an electric shuttle that could originate near the entrance to the park. All motorized vehicles (except service vehicles during curtailed hours) should be banned from the park. For all new construction please chose fuel-efficient (heat pumps) and environmentally sound materials. As Alaska’s capital we should “lead the way” in mitigation of climate change in all possible choices especially concerning how people (particularly “hordes” of people) will interact with the environment. Again, please limit the number of visitors per hour by some calculus that puts conservation at the heart of the equation. Thank you! (Posted By: Emily Kane) 5/16/2018

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The idea of emission free vehicles and boats operating in the mgvc area and mendenhall lake makes sense. Quiet and clean transportation at short distances, fueled with hydropower that could be generated at Nugget creek. What a great sustainability model for other areas. (Posted By: Robert Varness) 5/16/2018

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350Juneau is the local chapter of the global grassroots movement 350.org. We advocate for a just, healthy, carbon-neutral future and seek to hold corporations and public officials accountable. We promote science-based solutions to our climate crisis through education, public policy advocacy, and the mobilization of people to action. Our Juneau chapter represents nearly 400 residents and we welcome the opportunity to speak for them in commenting on the current planning process for the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA).

350Juneau sees the process of planning for the next twenty to fifty years at the MGRA as a tremendous opportunity to reshape the human side of one of Juneau’s special places and an opportunity to confront, head-on, our planet’s most pressing issue. With over 500,000 annual visitors from across the globe and the potential for dramatic increases in future visitation, impacts of current planning will reach far and wide and have lasting implications, not only on the management of this very special place but on the lessons and takeaways for this huge population of visitors.

The MGRA is not only a showcase of Alaska’s striking beauty but plays a lead role in the ongoing saga of global climate change. Writing the script for this saga must place climate change front and center. Addressing crowd management, human access, and recreational options are all vital to the success of this plan, but the climate message sent home with these half million visitors must be the foundation upon which all aspects of the plan are based. Worldwide, Alaska is known to be ‘at the front lines’ of climate change and to ignore reality would be a grave mistake. 350Juneau therefore strongly believes that all aspects of MGRA planning must have climate change center stage, be it the planning issue of transportation, facility construction, or access to glacier viewing areas.

Long before the creation of the MGRA, the area’s Nugget Creek was one of many sources of renewable hydroelectricity tapped to power the development of Juneau’s thriving gold mining industry. Today, with nearly all of Juneau’s electricity derived from hydropower, the legacy of Nugget Creek’s power generation lives on. Future planning of the MGRA should capitalize on this history and in light of today’s rapid warming, incorporate only renewable sources of energy into all aspects of development and expansion. Fossil fuel options have no place in this planning process and must be avoided across the board.

With no end in sight to the growth of Alaska’s cruise industry, crowd management and visitor transportation infrastructure development are two areas of great concern. It is paramount that  ‘business as usual’ is cast aside and that the planning process, as stated by planning contractor Corvus Design, Inc, “include innovative planning solutions throughout the MGRA…” Diesel buses, expanded parking lots and inefficient oil boilers are no longer innovative and have no place in the future of the MGRA.

With this backstory, a virtual consensus of climate change acceptance, and a tip of the hat to the renewable energy revolution sweeping the globe, 350Juneau supports the following innovative concepts in planning for the MGRA’s next fifty years:

Remote Parking and Electric Shuttle:  The elimination of the parking area adjacent to the current pavilion and visitor center and the creation in its place of a ‘welcome zone’ where visitors would be met with their first-impressions of the area’s spectacular beauty. This vehicle-free, no-traffic area in what is now the small loop-style parking lot and turnaround area would be returned to a more natural state and be accessed by an electric tram that would carry visitors from a bus parking lot situated at the site of the present snow-removal lot. Benefits of such a system would be the elimination of vehicle congestion, noise and fumes at the point of first glacier view, the elimination of unnecessary costly and invasive filling of kettle ponds and wetlands, and visitor education of the value of transportation circulators to reduce both resource and visual impacts on a highly valued natural area. Off peak seasons could entertain the idea of allowing local residents vehicle access to the tram stop and closer parking to the lake for skiing, skating and walking.

Preferential Treatment for Electric Transportation:  MGRA planning must be attentive to other current planning efforts underway in Juneau. With this winter’s CBJ support for the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy laying the foundation to power Juneau with renewable energy by 2045, momentum is rapidly building to electrify city bus fleets, convert heating systems from electric resistance and oil to highly efficient heat pumps and to build an electric infrastructure that supports these goals. As the city’s infrastructure supporting electric vehicles grows, those businesses and tourist movers who embrace the change should be rewarded with incentives such as better parking or ‘VIP’ access to the visitor center shuttle. These benefits could be marketable to potential tour customers, further emphasizing both the need and importance of electrification efforts and renewable energy sources.

Local Hydropower:  The importance of hydroelectric power generation to Juneau cannot be understated. A small scale hydroelectric system could create a modern version of the former Nugget Creek system from nearly a century ago. Not only would such a power source act as an educational mechanism to teach of the past uses of hydro as well as its present day importance, power generated from either Nugget Creek or Steep Creek could be used to power the electric shuttle running between the off-site parking and the visitor center complex.

Heat Pump Replacements for Oil Heat:  Any new construction, including welcome facilities or others, as well as the existing hillside visitor center should be constructed and remodeled with low cost and highly efficient heat pumps for their primary space heating needs. Due to the cooler temperatures often seen around the lake and in proximity to the glacier, it may be advantageous to either drill wells or lay out a geothermal field to allow for construction of a ground source heat pump system. Higher up front costs of such a system would be repaid fairly quickly with the elimination of the need for diesel heating fuel. Air-to-air and CO2 air-to-water heat pumps systems also bear serious consideration.

Electric Boats for Glacier Access:  The proposed glacier hub on the far side of the lake would best be served with small, quiet, electric vessels. 350Juneau feels strongly that a West Glacier road to this new interpretive complex would not fit with MGRA sustainability goals. Instead, a water-based clean and quiet system would not only be intriguing to tourists, but offer an additional renewable energy amenity to the innovative and forward-thinking ideas put into place via this planning process.

In keeping with 350Juneau’s advocacy, we envision a spectacular MGRA powered by hydroelectricity, free from the noise and pollution of diesel buses, and showcasing the effects of climate change on the glacier itself. We encourage you to think boldly as your planning continues.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Feel free to distribute these comments to members of the planning team.

Sincerely,

Andy Romanoff  350Juneau, Board Member (Posted By: 350Juneau) 5/9/2018

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Renewable Juneau submits the following comments for the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area and Visitor Center planning process.

Alaska is on the front lines of climate change as we are living through the warmest period “in the history of modern civilization.” The north is warming twice as fast as the global average and the effects of this warming are already evident. In Juneau, winters are warmer, rainfall more frequent,  and the glaciers melting quickly. Juneau will welcome 1.25 million visitors this summer and over 500,000 of them will visit the rapidly receding Mendenhall Glacier. In ten years, it is very likely that the glacier will no longer be visible from the current visitor’s center – a fact that could significantly impact Juneau’s economy.

Many Juneau residents are concerned about global climate disruptions and eager to increase awareness, transition away from fossil fuels, and position Juneau as a leader in this effort. This will make Juneau a more desirable place in which to work and raise families. As a result, the city assembly recently adopted the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy (JRES) which seeks to power Juneau’s heating, transportation and electricity with 80% renewable energy by the year 2045. Fundamental to the success of this strategy are energy efficiency and the electrification of heating and transportation.

As an important part of Juneau’s recreational and economic life, the management and design of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA) should reflect community goals such as the JRES. We urge the United States Forest Service to take action on the following initiatives as part of the current planning for the future of the MGRA. The MGRA can be a social hub and learning environment for both locals and visitors alike, highlighting the impacts of climate disruption and the technologies and strategies available to mitigate these impacts.

Renewable Juneau appreciates the efforts currently underway to address the future of tourism at the glacier. There are three areas that we think are particularly important, which we have outlined below.

First and foremost should be the elimination of inefficient, polluting, diesel buses. Renewable Juneau fully supports a vehicle-free zone near the current and planned future visitor’s center. Some of the impact lost from the shrinking of the glacier can be regained through the removal of traffic and congestion at the very point where visitors first glimpse the spectacular Mendenhall Lake, the surrounding peaks, and the glacier. The thousands of buses that make their way from town should park in an offsite location south of the existing parking lot. A renewable-energy shuttle can easily transport visitors the remaining half mile or so to the visitor’s center. Minimal disruption will occur at this first glacier viewpoint and some of the existing infrastructure can possibly be removed, such as the parking lot and its pavement. We feel that the shuttle concept will enhance the visitor experience by making the initial viewing area a cleaner, quieter, more focused space. Additionally, as electric buses begin to displace diesel, priority should be given to those organizations making this much-needed change. Incentives can be offered such as more convenient parking, first access to the shuttle, etc.

Secondly, the visitor’s center and any new construction should be models of energy efficiency in both construction and design. Heating and cooling systems should be run by heat pumps. Rebuilding the Nugget Creek hydropower station would be another creative and tourist-friendly improvement. This would provide another attraction for visitors and an opportunity to learn about the source of Juneau’s electricity, which is nearly 100% renewable. This truly local energy could power the transport shuttle and supplement heat and electricity at the visitor’s center.

Last but not least, we must ensure that visitors can continue to view the glacier as it recedes. Of the several ideas that have been discussed, we favor the use of electric lake-crossing boats that can safely take visitors closer to the glacier. These boats could be recharged by visitor’s center hydropower or the newest solar panels which operate in cloudy conditions. Hydrogen has also been suggested as an impressive alternative energy source.

Renewable Juneau is a 501c3 non-profit representing over 300 Juneau residents. We promote local, renewable energy in order to create a healthy, prosperous, and low-carbon future for Juneau. We strongly encourage the USFS to find innovative and renewable ways to bring the MGRA in step with the global movement towards a fossil-free 21st century. This is an opportunity to create a sustainable, informative, and educational experience for visitors and locals alike – an experience that will support the climate and energy efficiency goals of the Juneau community for years to come.

Sincerely,

The Board of Renewable Juneau (Posted By: Renewable Juneau) 5/4/2018

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As a local resident who frequently bikes to the glacier I have been increasingly bothered by the urban level traffic, fumes, and congestion at the visitor center area.  I would support using the bus parking/snow storage lot for bus and auto parking with circulating elctric buses to carry people to the Visitor Center.  I also support a bike trail with a bridge over the river connecting west side hiking and the campground with the trail system by the Visitor Center  As an occasional participant in the Beaver Patrol I support restoration of fish habitat in Steep Creek including replacing culverts with a bridge for better fish passage.  Building for the next 30 years with electric transportaion, a near net zero visitor complex, and care not to expand our footprint at the expense of the bears, salmon, arctic terns, and other animals for whom this wonderful place is home, that is what I support. (Posted By: Michael Tobin) 5/4/2018

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Hello,  I am very concerned with the proposed changes to the Mendenhall Glacier area.  It is not everyone’s “right” to visit the glacier in the summer.  The Galapagos for example, limits visitors so that their experience is of a higher quality and the wildlife is not disturbed.  The bear, beaver, eagle, marten, goat etc population will certainly be negatively impacted my thousands more visitors.  The small lake can only accommodate peacefully a few kayaks and canoes.  Electric boats going back and forth would turn this natural wonder into a carnival. And DO NOT build more parking lots.  Please use electric buses and/or shuttles.  Model sustainability and protect the quiet.  Thank you for considering my comments.  I have been a Juneau resident for fifty years. (Posted By: Linda Buckley) 5/3/2018

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Hey, Do not increase bus parking at the current site of the visitor center. Cover the snow/bank model airfield with pavement for buses and have tourists  and locals shuttle to the site. One more transfer will make or break  only a tiny number of tourist experiences, and it isn’t fair to severely impact all the other experiences. Should smoking be allowed? No. There are smokers who can’t go for an hour without a cigarette, but we will not  be providing an accommodation for them. (Posted By: Ray Imel) 5/2/2018

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Electrifying the tourism buses and centers, and potentially boats is an excellent idea.  The thought of chasing our glacier with a technology that is increasing it’s demise is not intelligent.

A Hydropower demonstration project is another worthwhile idea.  Especially awesome if the local stream hydropower could be used to power the tourists trams, buses, and possibly boats for the lake.  I think the USFS needs to take advantage of the Mendenhall visitor experience to educate visitors about not only how these incredible glaciers were formed, but how and why they are so rapidly disappearing.  The restoration of salmon habitat in Steep Creek is another excellent idea.  That we have such a rich wildlife viewing experience so close to town is very fortunate.  Any plan should include steps to protect this resource and all of the wildlife that it supports.  Lastly, I don’t think extending the road out West Glacier Trail is a very good idea.  I would rather see electric boats on the lake.   (Posted By: Suzanne Cohen) 4/30/2018

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Make access to the glacier like they do at Denali.  Build a USFS road along the West Glacier Trail up to an area high enough to view the glacier.  The road would be expensive and controversial so it may not happen.  Allow locals to use it one day a year.  Once the glacier recedes far enough you will not be able to see it anymore from the MGVC.  Boats might be okay but there is always the danger of drowning and high maintenance and employee costs. (Posted By: Tory Bennetsen) 4/29/2018

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Beautiful and amazing. Easy access for all.  Even saw an eagle.  (Posted By: Sue Sellers) 9/21/2017

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I support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposal for additional ski trails at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area and Visitor Center. Nordic skiing is one of a few winter activities that provides outdoor physical activity and access to Juneau’s grand natural beauty. The club’s proposal would make a logical and cost efficient expansion to Juneau’s wonderful trail system. (Posted By: Chas Dense) 4/9/2017

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The Wilson Family has been using the USFS Mendenhall Lake Recreational area as a winter and summer recreational hotspot for over 30 years.  We support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club in their efforts to increase the recreational benefits for all Juneau residents and visiting public.  We support the construction of improved nordic skiing at the Moraine Ecology Trail, North Shore Trail, Old River Trail, and the access trail from the Tour Bus parking area to the Moraine Ecology Trail.  We greatly support the effort for the construction of a footbridge across the Mendenhall River with a new trail connecting the bridge with the Old River Trail.

A footbridge across the river, built in the narrows at the campground, would be a huge benefit to skiers, trail, and campground users.  Connecting the two sides of the Mendenhall River would open the door to many new recreation opportunities, and enhance experiences year-around. The proposed bridge should be wide enough to accommodate nordic grooming equipment.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment – Jeff & Karen Wilson (Posted By: Jeffrey Wilson) 4/6/2017

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I wholeheartedly support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposal to construct and groom nordic skiing trails in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. Additional wintertime recreational opportunities are greatly needed in Juneau and nordic skiing is a healthy, affordable, low-impact, silent sport that can be enjoyed by many and meshes perfectly with a USFS recreation area such as the MGRA. (Name witheld by request) 4/3/2017

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I am in favor of developing the trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club. (Posted By: Brian Hood) 3/30/2017

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It would be great to have all the Dredge Lake ski trails groomed in addition to the campground and the Lake.  Both weather and money will be determining factors.   The JNSC which now grooms all ski trails, (other than at Eaglecrest), is all volunteer, and their machines are worked hard & are often in need of repair.   Major money would be needed for new snow machines & for paying groomers, as the addition of new  trails is  probably more than volunteers want to take on, on a regular basis.

More new trails on the W side of the road would be a welcome addition.   (Posted By: John Staub) 3/28/2017

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I love to ski at the lake and campground. Glad you continue to allow parking near the campground on the street. Any new ski opportunity is welcome  (Posted By: Julie Bednarski) 3/22/2017

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I support the proposed expansion of the nordic ski trails (Name witheld by request) 3/21/2017

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I’ve lived in communities with well-developed ski trails.  They become a draw, when well laid out an maintained.  Fairbanks and Anchorage exemplify this, with countless youth, parents and active retirees filling the trails all winter long.  Variety is the spice of life, and this will be a draw summer and winter.  Look closely at how Whitehorse  and even Bend, OR are combining mountain biking with skiing for year-round use.  Tourists are flocking.  (Thanks for your consideration – a dedicated recreationist.) (Posted By: Laura Kelly) 3/21/2017

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I support the JNSC proposal to expand nordic ski trails in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. Many people use the trails and increasing the trail system would be a benefit to the Juneau community. (Name witheld by request) 3/20/2017

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My friend and I ski the campground every morning that we have snow, so I am very excited about the possible construction of new trail on the west side of the skaters cabin road.  As you know, parking can be a problem so please consider a new parking area if this trail is built.  Many thanks. (Posted By: Cynthia Krehbiel) 3/20/2017

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Parking! This needs to be looked at. The scenery shouldn’t include 30 Subarus strung End to end along the path.

Streams do need to be looked from an environmental view, there are salmon in the streams by the Tolch rock entrance. (Posted By: Carlene Conway) 3/20/2017

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I am strongly in favor in favor of expansion of nordic trails in the Mendenhall Recreation Area. (Posted By: John Thedinga) 3/20/2017

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I have read the Juneau Nordic Ski Club proposals and I fully support their ideas. As someone who skies regularly I think it would be wonderful to have additional trails. The JNSC does an amazing job with grooming which provides skiing for a large number people in Juneau. (Posted By: Barbara Mason) 3/20/2017

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I support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club proposal. (Posted By: Brian Blitz) 3/19/2017

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I support the Juneau Nordic Ski Clubs proposal,an upland trail near the west side of the Lake will support cooler temperatures which may extend snow longevity. Would also be a great biking trail in the summer. I also support the Lake Ski Loop for its unique beauty.   (Name witheld by request) 3/18/2017

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I live, work, and recreate in the Mendenhall Valley. I frequently hike, run, and ski in the Mendenhall Glacier recreational area. I writing to support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposal to expand ski trails in the area. (Posted By: Susan Bell) 3/18/2017

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The plan is well thought out and the additional 10-15-2016 amendment contributes greatly to the expansion of the trail system by linking the trail system from the Visitor’s Center to the campground.  The plan is multi-user friendly impacting not only accessibility to increased skiing but biking, hiking, walking and running opportunities for our community members and visitors.  Well done JNSC!  I look forward to using the expanded trail system in all seasons for various activities- (Posted By: Dana Kent) 3/18/2017

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Keep up the great work of obtaining and maintaining cross country ski tracks. (Name witheld by request) 3/17/2017

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I support, endorse, will work actively to see the prosecution of the plans proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club for nordic ski trail development at the MGRA. (Posted By: Ray Imel) 3/17/2017

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As an enthusiastic classic and skate skier and hiker, I am in love with the idea of expanding the nordic trail system in Juneau.   (Posted By: Tina Pasteris) 3/17/2017

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Develop the trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club (Posted By: Delbert Carnes) 3/17/2017

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This would be very advantageous to all of juneau for recreational purposes of any kind. I have no concerns as feel the benefits far outweigh and disadvantage and know the thought is to still maintain a wonderful juneau recreational place of fun. (Posted By: Cheryle “Zeke” Yankee) 3/17/2017

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I would love more Nordic trails all over the west glacier area.  From the base of McGinnis to Grandchild, to auke mountain along Montana creek,  along the road to Montana creek rifle range.  To windfall lake.   Not sure what else I will be commenting on.  But I am supportive of more Nordic and hiking trails. (Posted By: Charlee Gribbon) 3/17/2017

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Please develop the trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club!   (Posted By: Karlynn Welling) 3/17/2017

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The public who use the hiking and ski trails who aren’t members need to $upport those organizations that do the work maintaining the trails.  It seems many folks think since the property is on public land, maintenance is being funded by the government, so they can use the trails since they pay taxes, even though Juneau Ski has signs up. (Posted By: Joyce Levine) 3/17/2017

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Please consider the proposals submitted by the Juneau Nordic Ski club to expand ski trails in the Mendenhall Glacier recreation area. The current trails are often at maximum capacity. Thank you. (Posted By: Ritchie Dorrier) 3/17/2017

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I think it would be great if the Forest Service expanded the x-country skiing trails or worked with the JNSC group to do so.  On weekends and when the lake is unavailable, the current campground trails are often overcrowded.

It would be nice to have somewhere with no dogs.  I have been charged twice this year, barked at several times, had them step on my skis, had a dogfight in front of me yesterday, and in many instances no owner was around! (Posted By: Bev Agler) 3/17/2017

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Leave the area alone.  There is a “SKI AREA” for which we all pay taxes.  Let the skiers use the SKI AREA.  The nordic club has been nothing but rude and hostile towards anyone on the trails that are not on skies. Especially towards walkers, and especially those with dogs.  I’ve had members of the nordic club “accidently” hit me with ski pole on the way by.  I’ve had them jab at my dog while she was on leash and at heal.  When pass, they don’t slow down, in fact they speed up, adopting and very exaggerated skate/ski stride in an effort to force us off trail.  Generally rude group who do not deserve squat.  Let them use the SKI AREA, leave the valley for the dog walkers and hikers. (Posted By: Tim Workman) 3/17/2017

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I would be happy to see this project happen, but I think the parking area wherever the access would be needs to be made adequate. I could not view the map, so if access is from the main parking lot for West Glacier trail, that may be adeqaute, but as it is now, we have people parking all over skaters cabin road and spilling over into our residential streets.  (Name witheld by request) 3/16/2017

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I support additional development of winter ski and other trail development.  Trails preferably will be developed to be sustainable to manage but also not over-developed to the point where they lose their natural elements (trail bed variation, obstacles, local materials primarily, etc).  Thanks for your efforts.  The MGRA is a gem for the community fo Juneau. (Name witheld by request) 3/16/2017

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I support both of the Juneau Nordic Ski club proposals for expanding ski trails. Priority should be given to opening up new trails to the west of Skaters Cabin. The Moraine Ecology Trails are used by walkers right now; please make sure that access for walkers is maintained when those trails are groomed for skiing.  (Name witheld by request) 3/16/2017

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Please develop the west side trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club (Name witheld by request) 3/16/2017

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I support most of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club suggestions for MGRA, including new all-season trails west of the campground and Skaters cabin. I do not support a bridge across the river, further development of existing Dredge Lakes area trails. I’d like to see a formal separation of skiers from winter walkers including dog walkers, because the groomers’ efforts are frequently destroyed by people and pet footprints. I “m a frequent skier at the campground, occasionally on the lake. (Name witheld by request) 3/16/2017

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I support the JNSC proposals for a new ski trail, footbridge across the Mendenhall River and widening of the Moraine Ecology trail to support grooming for classic skiing. The existing trails are overcrowded, more Jubeauites could be accommodated in an expanded trail system. (Posted By: Gretchen  Bishop ) 3/16/2017

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I strongly support the trail system improvements proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club. (Posted By: Willard Elliott) 3/16/2017

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I strongly support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposals to expand ski trails in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. My wife and I enjoy the campground and the lake when frozen and appreciate the trail grooming. We also like the Montana Creek and Eagle Beach trails. Expanding these Mendenhall trails as JNSC proposes would be welcomed by skiers and other trail users. Thank you.  (Posted By: Bob King) 3/16/2017

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Please add my name to those nordic skiers supporting the Nordic Ski club’s recommendations for 2 new trails for nordic skiing and for a multitude of different summer uses.  I also request that some if not all the new trails be lighted for extended winter usee.  Thank you. (Posted By: Ron Crenshaw) 3/16/2017

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I am thrilled Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is considering adding more cross country skiing trails and I am also thrilled there is a bit of a partnership happening with the Juneau Nordic Ski Club. I support JNSC’s proposals for more skiing trails in the MGRA and hope that a great working relationship between the two entities can grow and be beneficial to everyone during the planning process. (Posted By: Betsy Brenneman) 3/16/2017

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Please consider the development of   the trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club.  Thank you! (Posted By: Mary Pat Schilly) 3/16/2017

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I support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposal for the MGRA.  This is a highly used area in all seasons and the trails tend to get crowded. This proposal would be good for everyone. (Posted By: Carl  Reese) 3/16/2017

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For over 30 years I have enjoyed hiking and Nordic skiing in Juneau. I appreciate all of the work by the USFS on these trails to make them available to the public. I am in support of the development of the Nordic ski trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club and ask you to please consider their proposal. Thank you.   (Posted By: Theresa Tavel) 3/16/2017

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I whole-heartedly agree with both proposals being put forward by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club and am one of those members willing and able to volunteer for trail development.  A larger network of Nordic ski trails in this area would be a great addition the campground and Montana creek trails as well as providing more variable terrain to challenge skiers.  I skate ski, classic ski, and run in the winter, so I appreciate the proposal for 6 km of trails groomed for skating as well as modification to the dredge lake trails to accommodate classic skiing, but not remove the option for running or walking in this area.  Should the proposals need to be adjusted for any reason, I completely trust the judgment of the JNSC to do so for the optimal benefit of all outdoor enthusiasts of Juneau.   (Posted By: Megan Buzby) 3/16/2017

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I am writing in support of the continued maintenance and grooming of our nordic ski trails at the campground.   (Posted By: Allison Smith) 3/16/2017

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I like the idea of a new, muti-use, year round trail on the west side of the lake that would be designed to accommodate nordic skiing, as well as non-winter use.  Building it in concentric circles as described would allow all users flexibility in deciding how far to ski/run/walk/bike, as well as make it easier to incorporate into a multi-year building plan. (Posted By: Barbara Thurston) 3/16/2017

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Cross country skiing is one of the best parts of winter in Juneau. Additional trails as outlined by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club would be a great benefit to the hundreds of people that regularly cross country ski in the glacier area. A hiking bridge across the river would also be utilized by hikers and campers.  (Posted By: Joy Lyon) 3/16/2017

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I fully support the Juneau Nordic Ski Club’s proposed  trail improvements to increase the groom-able/skiable kilometers in the MGRA. A loop on the West Side of the Lake will increase kilometers and nicely complement the new bike path to be installed this summer. Thinning the canopy on the Marine Ecology loop will also enhance opportunities, with a connecting footbridge across the Mendenhall creating an entire system that can meet a diverse array of skiing needs: trails for beginners, trails for intermediate/advanced, trails with and without dogs…. currently, the 3k loop on the Campground is at capacity and is way over-utilized–a great sign that this community would enjoy more ski trails! The Juneau Nordic Ski Club would continue to be a great partner in this work: providing grooming and associated equipment, volunteers for trail work and help managing user access (such as signage, figuring out ways to collect fees to pay for improvements, etc). Furthermore, these new trails would continue work towards a vision of a unified network of a year-round/connected trail system in the back of Me ndenhall Valley (connecting to Montana Creek on the West Side and to Powerline/Under Thunder on the East Side). (Posted By: Tristan Knutson-Lombardo) 3/16/2017

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I strongly support JNSC’s two proposals for new ski trails.  (Posted By: Sally Schlichting) 3/16/2017

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I enthusiastically support the two proposals offered by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club for new ski trails in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area!  I love to ski and would love to have more ski trails in this area to explore. (Posted By: Sally Schlichting) 3/16/2017

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Please develop the trails as proposed by the Juneau Nordic Ski Club.   (Posted By: Russell Strandtmann) 3/16/2017

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I am quite in favor of extending the nordic trail in the WestG area. A six km loop with parking at the end of the road would be perfect. I suspect most summer hikers would prefer to hike on up the westG trail, but it might be great for mt biking. A place for scheduling mt bike racing even. the proposed loop is close to where the nordic trail machinery is kept– a great convenience.   (Posted By: eric olsen) 3/15/2017

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I want to express support for the Nordic Ski Club proposal to improve the existing east-side trails for Nordic skiing.  These improvements would enhance and expand Nordic skiing in the MGRA. I recently skied the Moose Lake winter trail and was thrilled at the brushing that was recently completed to make my ski trip such a pleasurable experience.  (Posted By: Deborah Rudis) 3/15/2017

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Living in the Montana Creek area for almost 20 years, I value living in this recreational area.  I am a member of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club and utilize the campground every morning.  As you know in the winter time, the campground area is packed with cars and skiers.  If you the FS has the ability and land to provide more areas to ski, I support this.  JNSC is an active and growing community asset that can partner with the FS to enhance our Juneau recreational opportunities.

I support the trail improvements of Dredge Lake and Moraine Trails to allow and improve nordic ski trails.   (Posted By: Michelle Kaelke) 3/15/2017

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parking at the end of the WestG road would be a plus over the situation at the cmpg gate.  longer trail for skiing would be great. I’m not sure summer walking on this trail would be better than using the WestG trail on up the valley, but it might make a nice mt bike circuit.   the nordic club trail maintenance equipment, groomers etc are already right at hand. (Posted By: eric olsen) 3/15/2017

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Please accept the proposals of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club to expand the nordic skiing opportunities in the area around the glacier by grooming trails on the east side of the lake and establishing new trails on the west side.  (Posted By: Jenifer Shapland) 3/15/2017

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I am writing in support of the proposal by the Nordic Ski Club to develop new Nordic ski trails in the area. These concentric trail layouts that are proposed are similar to those at other Nordic ski areas that I have visited.  This popular layout allows for a variety of distance options for skiers. I would be happy to volunteer to work on trail construction. (Posted By: Deborah Rudis) 3/15/2017

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I have enjoyed classic xctry skiing, hiking and biking. I would love to have add’l winter trails to ski with my family. Two of my three children love to skate ski!! (Posted By: Beth Rivest) 3/15/2017

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On September 23, 2016, the Juneau Nordic Ski Club (JNSC) submitted a proposal to the MGRA planning team to build a new trail on the west side of the Skater’s cabin road.  After discussions with staff, the JNSC would like to make the following additional proposals to improve nordic skiing as well as other non-motorized uses.

Proposal:

The JNSC would like to see the Moraine Ecology Trail, North Shore Trail, Old River Trail, and the access trail from the Tour Bus parking area to the Moraine Ecology Trail improved to accommodate nordic skiing (please see MGRA map). Additionally, we would like to see the construction of a footbridge across the Mendenhall River with a new trail connecting the bridge with the Old River Trail.

These trails are currently in fairly good condition for walkers, and would need a relatively small amount of work to be upgraded to allow for nordic grooming.  The JNSC proposes that these east-side trails be improved only for classic skiing, not the wider trail width needed for skate skiing.   The forest canopy would need to be thinned or removed in several areas to allow snow to reach the trail.  Since the trails are already established, it would not be necessary to remove very many trees – mostly limbs.  There are a number of areas that would require rocks and roots to be covered with fill material, or removed to accommodate grooming equipment.  Some small bridges would need to be widened and improved.  Improving the trails to this level would have the added benefit of making them more accessible to users of all abilities when the trails are free of snow.

A footbridge across the river, built in the narrows at the campground, would be a huge boon to skiers, and all other trail users.  Connecting the two sides of the MGRA would open the door to many new recreation opportunities, and enhance experiences year-around. Campground users could walk the trail system to the Visitor’s Center and beyond without making the drive around.  During periods when the lake is not suitable for skiing, skiers could access both the east-side and campground trails from either the tour bus parking or campground trail-heads.   In addition to the many other considerations of bridge-design, the bridge should be wide enough to accommodate nordic grooming equipment.

Since improving the east-side trails for nordic skiing will be vastly less expensive than building a bridge across the river, we propose that the trail system be upgraded for grooming as soon as possible.  These trails will be a great addition for all trail-users whether or not a bridge is constructed.  During periods when the lake is adequately frozen, the trails could be contiguously groomed with the lake trail via the North Shore Trail.

The JNSC board would welcome any opportunity to further explore this proposal with the planning team.

Sincerely,

Juneau Nordic Ski Club  Board of Directors (Frankie Pillifant, President  Mike Hekkers, Vice President  Tim Blust, Treasurer  Bart Watson, Secretary  Odin Brudie  Ray Imel  Jess Brown  Fred Hiltner)

(Posted By: Tim Blust) 2/3/2017

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I would like to see increased management of the campground in winter time, with a segregated path for walkers. It seems that there is enough room for walkers and skiers to have separate lanes along the campground road. I would also like to see enforcement of dog leash laws at the campground. I have tripped over dogs off lease several times while skate skiing, which is a dangerous situation.

I would also encourage the leasing of a food service area in the center for a local vendor. The pie shop is a nice piece of history that should be reintegrated in the facility.

Finally, the Dredge Lake area is a hidden gem. With some improved signage, this could be a valuable site for locals and visitors alike. The fall colors there are particularly beautiful. (Name witheld by request) 12/12/2016

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A hydroelectricity-powered fixed-guideway system for Juneau, from cruise ship docks to MGRA-MGVC, including a loop around the valley and the airport, is a bit more within Juneau’s conceptual and economic reach.  Electrification, via overhead wires, is costly and ugly and somewhat dangerous.  Consider the Alstom train:  http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/hydrogen-fuel-cell-train-order-expected-this-year.html

Hydrogen-fueled, Fuel-Cell-Electric trains would also be expensive in capex, but life cycle cost might be lower.  The hydrogen fuel would be produced from electrolysis from hydropower, at a convenient place on the electric utility infrastructure.  A dedicated substation might be warranted, depending on peak daily hydrogen fuel use in summer.  Fueling the trainset would probably take 5-15 minutes.

The goal would be to largely eliminate buses from both cruise ship docks and MGVC.  All ship pax taking a shore tour would board the train(s) dockside, ~ 20 – 30 m from their ship.  The trip to a mode change point, for buses to other tours as necessary, would be free.  The ship company’s cost would be included in the cruise ticket cost and price.  The trip all the way to MGVC might also be included in pax ticket price, to simplify and give pax a good feeling about the perk trip to the MGVC.

The Alstom train looks more like “streetcar” than “light rail” configuration.  Hard to know car seating capacity.  Usually cars are customized for the customer:  seating config, for example

Juneau nor DOTPF has ever seriously considered “hydroelectricity-powered fixed guideway” for the community’s default, backbone transportation system.  We might be surprised to find it would be affordable and a great saving in costs of car ownership and gasoline consumption.

The cruise ship Pax Head Tax  might pay for the whole system capex in 20 years.  The fixed guideway system, rail or dedicated electric busway, would also always be available to the public.  Each cruise line could have its dedicated car(s), perhaps custom-colored.  The public would pay their fares and ride in the yellow cars, for example.  If it’s a busy cruise ship day, we add more cars per train and / or more trains — just like any other “train” transit system.

Meantime, if all Juneau’s 9,000 households could be happy with one fewer “light duty vehicle (LDV)”, i.e. “car”, that would be a saving of about $ 70 million per year in personal, after-tax, income, that we could spend or invest in our children’s education and experiences, and in improving the quality of Juneau Life.   [ Owning and operating a private LDV in USA costs an average $ 7 – 8,000 per year in after-tax income ]

Considering this option could be one scenario among many as we advance the “DRAFT Juneau Community Energy Plan” to a community-supported plan.  A volunteer effort could approximate capex and O&M costs; accurate and defensible results would require costly consultants.

Via an Act of Congress we might get the $ 500 million of USDOT “Highway” money dedicated to “Juneau Access” reprogrammed to build the intra-city “Hydropowered Fixed Guideway” system instead, for less than $ 500 million, returning significant cash to the President’s “Infrastructure Rebuilding” program.

This would be a far better outcome than losing the funds or dissipating them on an attempt at moving the Alaska 7 dead end 50 miles north.  I’ll be glad to write that letter of inquiry to our Delegation.

I’ll be glad to send you the digital audio files from a two-day visit in July, 2001, by Frank Guzzo, Siemens Transportation Sales Manager, for his pro bono quick look at “Light Rail for Juneau ?”

Might be time for another look.  I’ve participated in two of the MGRA-MGVC design charettes, and I believe embedded this concept at the last one where we were voting our resources by block placement.

This is a potentially very complex and transformative project to adequately consider.  Are we up for it, or would it be a distraction ?  Give it an amateur try, or forget it ?  Could the MGRA-MGVC planning contract help ?

Thank you for your consideration.

(Posted By: Bill Leighty) 12/10/2016

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I would like to see winter walking, dogwalking and biking trails separate from nordic skiing trails. We have demand for all four, but rather than pushing all users into conflict with a multi-use designation, let’s create a structure that allows them to coexist.  Trail designation, timesharing, signage, parking and plowing, selective grooming are some of the tools that could improve the experience for all users. (Posted By: Ray Imel) 12/8/2016

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Hydrogen-fueled, Hybrid Fuel Cell Electric Bus (FCEB) and Hybrid Fuel Cell Electric Train (FCET) will soon be available to help with MGVC access, enabling a hydroelectric-powered, fixed-guideway, high-capacity, quiet, zero-emissions transportation system interconnecting the downtown cruise ship docks and the MGVC, with stops along the way for (a) intermodal connections from track mode to bus mode, for summer travelers, (b) public use, via “public” cars on the “train”, (c) public transport of kayaks and other rec gear on a flatbed car at end of train.

Toyota rolls out fuel cell bus (FC buses)

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/germany-worlds-first-zero-emission-trains-2017

(Posted By: Bill Leighty) 11/10/2016

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I would like to see a hiker/biker camping area at the Mendenhall Campground that 1) does not require advance reservations, 2) does not turn anyone arriving by bike or on foot away, 3) is a reasonable per person fee (half or less of cost of a regular tent/car camp site), 4) has a shelter and food storage, 5) in a great world, these food storage/charging stations like at Oregon State Parks (http://atfiles.org/files/ppt/Tourism-Hiker-Biker-Campsites-Phillips.htm). Most hiker-biker areas are located closish to caretakers and have an open area with several picnic tables that allow/encourage sharing and socializing. (Name witheld by request) 11/9/2016

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I am concerned about access to the lake. There is a problem with launching small nonpowered trailered boats. ie small sailboats rowboats etc. Access does not seemed to be allowed for the general public. commercial operations  only. It is a public lake after all. thanks  Jack (Posted By: jack manning) 11/9/2016

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Having attended the first two charrettes and not finding an avenue to broach the issue of excessive calls for wilderness rescue within the MGRA I would suggest that it needs to be included in the discussion in the interest of public safety.  In recent years the majority of MGRA rescue calls have evolved from hikers who started out at the West Glacier trailhead parking area; the usual MO is that they learned about getting close to the glacier (ice caves) through social media and with little preparation or common sense they step into the wilderness and beyond their own capabilities of self-rescue.  While the answer may lay in trail development and education, I believe that with the retreating ice work on access from the current trail at not be the best long term solution.

The retreating ice has opened up a possibility as the landing area at the NW corner of the lake (Glacier right) is no longer under an icefall or subject to excessive wave action from calving ice at the face.  I envision boats such as the steam launches (could be electric or steam) used in the channel for several summers delivering passengers to this area where they are met by ranger naturalists. At this point they are closer to the glacier, the USFS has greater control over access and choices can be made for “soft” or more vigorous explorations. This is not unlike the visitor experience in parts the Canadian Rockies over a hundred years ago.

Just a thought . . .

George Reifenstein  Capt. (ret) CCF/R Special Teams   (Posted By: George Reifenstein) 11/8/2016

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Greetings,

I am writing on behalf and support of the Gastineau Aeromodeler’s Society (GAS), a radio control (R/C) flying club here in Juneau.  I have had the pleasure of being a member of this unique group for the past year and a half. GAS has utilized the bus parking lot area near the visitor’s center for our recreational model aircraft hobby for many years and we are very concerned about the future of MGRA/MGVC development and our ability to continue using this area for our hobby operations.  Please consider the following:

GAS has agreements in place to fly model aircraft at MGRA/MGVC with the United States Forest Service (USFS), the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), some of which go back many years.  GAS recently obtained a Letter of Agreement with the FAA to legally utilize the airspace that surrounds the MGRA/MGVC for our hobby operations. GAS members have always abided by the rules set forth by the MGVC, especially rules during the tourist season that limit our flying time to after 7:30PM in the parking lot. The tour operators utilize the parking lot during the summer for 13.5 hours per day, 7 days a week, for 5-6 months out of the year, which severely limits the times in which GAS members can fly. Often times, the tour operators do not vacate the parking lot by 7:30PM and we are not allowed to fly until all of the buses have left the lot. We hope that future MGRA/MGVC planning will enforce this rule so that tour operators are in agreement of when GAS members are permitted to fly in the bus parking lot. Please note that GAS pays permit fees and follows all posted rules pertaining to the bus parking lot.

GAS members have a demonstrated history of exercising safety and obeying all rules and regulations in order fly model aircraft in this area. GAS flies according to community-based organization set of safety rules set forth by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which all GAS participants are members of. In addition, all GAS members are registered with the FAA, and all aircraft flown that meet the size/weight criteria contain unique identification numbers  to ensure our commitment to safety, responsibility, and compliance. Furthermore, GAS complies with all altitude restrictions for model aircraft set forth by the FAA. GAS is committed to ensuring that our reputation with the public and government organizations remains positive and that we are perceived as an educational, safe, and organized group of model aviation enthusiasts.

It is extremely important to the future of GAS that we are able to continue our club operations at the MGRA/MGVC. The bus parking lot has been GAS’s primary flying site for many years and it is currently the only spot in the Juneau area that we can fly our model aircraft in. Therefore, it is imperative that GAS is able to continue using the MGRA/MGVC area. GAS cannot afford to lose the privilege of flying in this area because the future of our club would be at placed at risk. I kindly ask that the planning committee for the development of the MGRA/MGVC please include the concerns of GAS members in your planning efforts to ensure that we can continue to utilize this area for our great hobby.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chris Moniz  GAS Member (Posted By: Chris Moniz) 11/2/2016

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I have attended the two meetings that were held already and during those meetings I talked about flying rc aircraft in the MGRA and the general   feed back I got was that flying rc aircraft was not a valid recreational activity so I would like to clear this up .This activity is authorized in the 1996 MGRA final environmental impact statement ROD -4 witch says Motorized model airplane use will continue to be allowed in the dredge lake unit .It is also stated in the FEDERAL REGISTER VOL. 76 NO.30 PART 111 Department of Agriculture 36 CFR PART 219 Section 219.8 allowing the responsible official to offer recreation opportunities now and into the future .Recreational opportunities could include non motorized ,motorized ,developed and dispersed recreation on land ,water,and in the AIR. We are the most heavily impacted user group of all .We pay  fees to fly this includes FS permit fee ,club does ,AMA insurance witch runs each person over 150.00 a year .We have also obtained a LOA letter of authorization witch allows us to fly in class D airspace within a plotted GPS course,  We pay to maintain a fly spot that is open to the public free of charge and no rules.But we can not fly when buses are present from april 1 to Sept 29 from 6am to 7.30 pm 7 days a week,  and in the winter we can not use the cite we pay for  if the city is dumping snow. In contrast all other users ,dog walkers,bikers ,hikers,berry pickers ,skiers ,runners ,and  lot of other groups that are allowed to use the MGRA year around . We follow a lot of rules to maintain use of this cite we have followed every safety stander,FS policy ,and environmental policy to assure public safety and to not affect the delicate ECO system of the MGRA . We only ask one thing and that is .all people follow the the POSTED rules and that includes the FS personal . The number one is the posted sign at the Bus Parking Lot which says gate will be locked at 7.30 .The bus lot is open from 6am to 7.30 pm that is 13.5 hrs a day 7 a week for 6 moths that is more than enough time for for all tour operators to do business it in not right to allow them unlimited time .The main tour operator that is in the lot well after 7.30 and as late as 8.45 is Gasitneau   guiding thy and all other tour operators should half to abide by the posted rules .Rules and regulations   are in place to be FOLLOWED by all user groups so that all people involved can enjoy this wonderful space in our back yard. (Posted By: Craig Orsborn) 10/31/2016

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I have lived on the edge of the MGRA for 22 years now and have two dogs that I walk in the area at least three times a day. We walk in the campground, Tolch Rock and West Glacier Trail. In the winter, walking is replaced by ice skating  and skiing on the lake and skiing in the campground. Our family, along with a other members of the Nordic ski community, initiated grooming trails for nordic skiing ~20 years ago. From that beginning we now have an activity that thousands of local residents participate in all winter long and a dedicated group of volunteers who maintain the groomed trails on a daily basis as long as we have snow.

With two Border Collie’s, I think it is safe to say that I spend an hour a day roaming the trails of the West MRGA, day in, day out in all kinds of weather. All this time wandering in nature has allowed me plenty of time to think about what is valuable about this incredible asset we have.

The following are some points I would like to make.

  1. Maintain the view from almost anywhere on the lake shore that you cannot see any sign of human habitation with the exception of the visitor center. Please keep it this way. This means no viewing platforms or boardwalks/trails that are visible. Please skip the viewing platforms all together and offset any trails/bike paths from the lake shore. Right now you can stand almost anywhere along the west glacier lake shore and look back towards town and not know that there is a town there. You can have the experience of feeling like you’re in complete solitude and yet only be minutes away from subdivisions. 2. Continue to partner with the Nordic ski club to allow them to maintain the trails in the campground and on the lake.  This is an activity that contributes to the physical and mental well-being of our community.   3. Continue to be reasonable about dogs in the MRGA. Dogs on leash in the campground during the months that the campground is open but allowing off leash the remainder of the year including in the winter when skiing. Have you ever tried to ski with a dog on a leash? This is how it is now and I would like to see this continue. The Nordic community has been pretty good about cleaning up dog poop after themselves and I don’t see this as being a problem. Up at Eaglecrest’s dogs are not allowed on the groomed trails so it is nice to have the option of getting your dogs out to exercise with you in this area. Nice balance.   4. I would never want to see lighted ski trails in the winter in the campground. There is plenty of ambient light from town and people that want more light can wear headlamps. And to be mindful of light pollution, I would never want to see street lights along Skaters Cabin Road or West Glacier trailhead parking lot.  5. I have been upset to hear that local daycare providers cannot bring their children for a walk in the campground without getting a permit. I think this is a ridiculous rule and in this day and age where fewer and fewer children are getting out into nature, anyone willing to take a group of kids outside needs to be applauded not stymied.  6. I have also seen that with the institution of all online fee paying for the campground that there are fewer and fewer locals using the campground. What if a person is too poor to have Internet access or a credit card? Are we shutting out people living in poverty from using this recreational area? Taking the family camping used to be the poor man’s vacation. Is the MRGA in danger of becoming yet another rich man’s playground?  Thank you for the opportunity to comment and unfortunately I’ll be out of town for your third meeting.  (Name witheld by request) 10/28/2016

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I have submitted an proposal on behalf of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club in an email to John Neary on 9/23/16.  (Posted By: Tim  Blust) 9/23/2016

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  1. The Visitor Center/Steep Creek area A. The Mendenhall Glacier is a vestige of its former self, a fine focus for lessons about climate change but hardly a captivating interest (it barely produces even ice-cubes anymore), and even the vestige is getting ever smaller and farther away.

What usually gets visitors excited is the wildlife and the fish. Crowds gather to watch spawning salmon, the bears that come to feast on the fish, and the porcupines that often surprise visitors by climbing up in trees. Broods of mallards and mergansers, stately herons, diving and nesting American Dippers, rowdy ravens, and occasional otters and mink add to the interest and educational opportunities. An essential feature of this local landscape is the resident family of beavers, whose dams create important habitat for juvenile salmon; the beaver camera allows glimpses into life in the lodge. In future years, the animals are likely to be the main attraction here.

There is always a big push to bring in more money: the Visitor Center wants the fees and the guiding companies want to make money. Therefore, there is always a big interest in having more and more visitors to the area.

The first problem associated with large numbers of visitors is vehicle traffic on the approach to the Visitor Center—too much and way too fast. The recently installed speed bumps have helped a little, but they are only seasonal, during the tourist season, even though the salmon and the bears are often active into December. Local vehicles tend to ignore the speed bumps as much as possible, and after the tourist season is over, locals customarily speed (over the posted 20 mph and sometimes much more) all the way to the end of the road and back.

This puts both wildlife and wildlife-watchers at risk. There are several spots in the 20-mph zone where bears habitually cross the road. Females with cubs sometimes cross well ahead of their cubs, so drivers might slow for her but be unaware of the trailing cubs. An already-stressed bear may try to cross and misjudge the timing. And people congregate on both sides of the road when they learn that a bear is in the vicinity and about to cross the road.

Several things are needed in this area: 1) a very large culvert for the creek, with passageway for bears (who would have to learn that it offers safe passage under the road, and 2) very strict and continuous enforcement of speed limits, for safety of wildlife  and people, even outside the tourist season—or closing off public road access entirely.

A second problem is that large numbers of visitors create congestion, and crowds of people have already had a negative impact on opportunities for bear- and fish-watching, in two ways: 1) as the number of people increases, so does the probability that there will be one or two persons who do not respect the bears’ need for some space: someone reaches through a fence to pet a bear (!), shoves a camera lens into a bear’s face, pokes sticks or throws stones at a bear, or even ‘sics’ a dog at a bear. So even if most people behave properly, the negative impact on bears increases. And stressed bears are more likely to be aggressive.

2) The distribution of increasing numbers of people can directly impair viewing opportunities. Dense crowds gather on viewing platforms and foot bridges, blocking the view for those behind the front row and blocking passing foot traffic. Long, dense lines of people on the ramp to the Visitor Center and on the trails make a barrier to natural movements of the bears that come to the area to feed on the fish.   As a result, bears are more likely to be stressed and nervous, and either behave aggressively or avoid the area altogether. Both potential outcomes impair viewing opportunities and, if bears avoid the area, they miss a very importance source of food needed for hibernation and feeding cubs.

Any increase in the numbers of people visiting this area will exacerbate those existing problems. The human concentrations in the ‘hot spots’ would get worse. Spreading out the people to new viewing places would automatically reduce the places where bears feel safe; they need quiet places to feed, nurse cubs, and rest near the fish source. Exclosing (e.g. by an electric fence) the Visitor Center itself, the ramp, and the hill behind the Visitor Center, and thus forcing bears to use the lake beach and the route by the highway culvert, removes their access to traditional travel and safe resting areas on the hill between those two routes. Again the impact on the bears themselves and the viewing opportunities is likely to be negative.

In short, increasing visitor ‘access’ and numbers is likely to damage the very resource they come to enjoy and thus diminish their experience in the area. The huge summer crowds (and misbehaving people and dogs) have already contributed to reducing the number of bears that use the area; the numbers of bears seen in the Steep Creek area recently is decidedly less than it was a few years ago.

Some suggestions for partially alleviating a few of these problems: raise the boardwalks and viewing areas higher, so it is harder for pushy visitors to try to touch bears or shove cameras too close to bears, and for annoyed bears to reach across the fence (now possible in some places!) to swat an intrusive visitor; strictly and continually enforce the speed limits; better yet, restrict all vehicles to the area by the bus parking lot (and possibly provide alternate means for disabled persons to get to the Visitor Center).

  1. Just above the footbridge on the Trail of Time is a small waterfall that is a barrier to further fish passage. The cliff on one side of this falls is a traditional spot for American Dippers to nest, and a pair tries to nest there every year—the only pair on this creek. People often work their way from the trail through the brush to a gravel bar in front of the nest. Standing or walking on this bar disturbs the birds as they fly back and forth feeding chicks; worse yet is the person who throws stones into the water there.

One possibility for ‘increased access’ is to build a viewing platform next to the stream in this location. That would surely disturb the nesting birds—people talking and yelling, moving about, dropping junk, etc. Setting up such a platform also creates one more spot for congestion, both on the platform and entering/leaving the Trail of Time. If there must be a platform here, it must be placed well away from the stream and gravel bar and elevated enough to let fishing bears pass below without hassle.

A better spot for ‘improved viewing’ would be a small platform just before the footbridge, at trail level (not water level), with an opening in the tree canopy. Human congestion would still be a problem.

  1. In addition to the sockeye run in mid-tourist season, there is a later run of coho in Steep Creek. Both runs are important to bears, which need to put on lots of fat for hibernation and (for females) for nursing cubs to be born in late winter.

Several years ago, the Forest Service tore out all the beaver dams upstream of the lowest viewing platform on Steep Creek, with the stated single goal of improving spawning habitat for sockeye. This plan was ill-conceived and flawed from the outset, because it assumed that spawning habitat limited the local sockeye population (which could have been limited by events in the ocean or commercial by-catch, for example). It also neglected the probable impact on the coho run, by severely reducing the amount of habitat for rearing juvenile salmon in the ponds behind the beaver dams. The scientific literature (as is well known to fish-managers in the Pacific Northwest) documents that beaver ponds provide excellent rearing habitat for juvenile coho and sockeye (they grow bigger and survive better than in other habitats) and salmon populations are often limited, not by spawning habitat, but by rearing habitat. References to this literature can be provided if desired.

The runs of both sockeye and coho are very important to local bears, so the loss of rearing habitat has probable ripple effects on bear foraging and well-being. To add insult to injury, removing the dams was supposed to increase water flow and flush out fine sediments, but instead it dumped more sediment on previous spawning beds.

What was needed was a consideration of the whole local ecosystem, not just one species and one factor. That continues to be the case. Future management should encourage beaver dams, restoring rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids.

At the mouths of Steep Creek are two major beaver dams, creating a pond for the resident beavers’ lodge and a pool where juvenile salmonids overwinter and where returning salmon get ready for the last upstream passage. These two dams are sometimes breached by management on the presumption that adult salmon cannot surmount them. However, when the water level below the dams is high enough (as it often is after heavy rains and in the autumn), salmon jump or slither over these dams quite easily. If water levels are low, the fish can easily wait for some time (even many days), as they sometimes have to do in natural systems. If water levels stay low, small breaches in the dams are sufficient; it is not necessary to destroy large parts of the dams.

  1. D) Dogs. I am prepared to love every dog I meet on the trail, but the area near Steep Creek and the Visitor Center is not an appropriate place for them, especially if they are not leashed. Even the very presence of dogs causes avoidance behavior by wildlife (references provided if desired). Off-leash dogs sometimes chase bears, annoy trail-walkers in those congested areas, and sometimes molest the spawning fish. They should, alas, be banned from this area.
  2. The Dredge Lakes area This area receives a lot of casual use by hikers, runners, fisher-persons, dog-walkers, bicyclists, bird-watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and education groups. Duck hunting is legally restricted to Norton and Glacier lakes; fishing is a common use in certain of the lakes (some of which are stocked). Human congestion is less of a problem here because there are no established viewing sites and no ready vehicle access; lower density and greater dispersion of humans means that wildlife has more safe areas for avoiding humans and dogs.

Beavers have created dams and ponds in much of the area, sometimes flooding trails. Salmon spawn in Dredge Creek itself (all the way up, almost to the bus parking lot) and possibly in upwellings in Moose Lake; they also rear in ponds throughout this part of the system. The Old River Channel offers rearing habitat and very limited spawning habitat. The area is used by migrating swans, migrating and nesting ducks and songbirds, some shorebirds, foraging eagles, goshawks, and sharp-shinned hawks, as well as bears, otters, mink, porcupine, hare, and the occasional deer.

At present (and for the past 7 years, in response to a Forest Service plan to lethally trap the beavers), a local group of volunteers (the Beaver Patrol) works in all of Dredge Creek, and Moose and Crystal Lakes, to maintain the beaver population and their home ponds while also maintaining fish passage and salmonid rearing habitat and reducing trail floods. A newly completed (2016) official Forest Service document formalized this effort and established an agreement for a cooperative effort with those goals in mind.

Several things would further improve fish passage and reduce trail flooding (while keeping the beaver population), including deposition of gravel in low spots on the trails that are easily flooded by heavy rains, replacing a culvert on the trail behind the Forest Service office to facilitate flow-through and reduce overflow on the trail, replacing an unnecessarily long culvert at the outlet of Moose Lake to facilitate culvert cleaning and enhance fish passage, installing barriers at both ends of the culvert under the highway near the Dead Tree Pond (near the bus parking lot) to prevent stuffing of the pipe by beavers, and so on.

In addition, it would be a good idea to restore the Moose Lake trail, which was the direct route from the Back Loop to the shore of Mendenhall Lake. Now deeply flooded in at least two areas, it would require a major effort to make it usable by foot traffic (raising the trail bed and installing several footbridges).

The public needs to be made aware (e.g., via signage) that managements of the dams and attendant structures in this area are a joint project of the Forest Service and the Beaver Patrol. If members of the public wish to help, the best way it not by independent actions, which often interfere with the goals set by the joint agreement, but by joining the Patrol and becoming part of the planned management.

I also note that if regular commercial bicycle tours begin to use this area, we can expect that greater trail maintenance would be needed, because bicycles usually dig deeper holes when the ground is soft and muddy than foot traffic does.   (Posted By: mary willson) 9/21/2016

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I would like to see the outdoor patio remade into an indoor classroom for 10 people. (Name witheld by request) 9/16/2016

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