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Cul-de-sac eyed for roadside fishers

Posted: March 27, 2013 - 7:21pm  |  Updated: March 27, 2013 - 11:11pm
The city is moving ahead with plans to set aside the area at the end of Channel Drive for a roadside fishing park, much like the one next to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
The city is moving ahead with plans to set aside the area at the end of Channel Drive for a roadside fishing park, much like the one next to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.

As development continues to crowd the Gastineau Channel waterfront, Juneau’s Fisheries Development Committee is asking the city to set aside space for public roadside fishing opportunities.

The committee presented recommendations to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Lands Committee on March 11.

Input from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fish Division came by way of Juneau Area Management Biologist Brian Glynn. Glynn met with the committee several times and recommended development of the cul-de-sac near the Egan Expressway retaining wall, near the former location of Channel Marine.

Glenn said in a recent interview that the site’s good fishing, low traffic flow and proximity to the often-crowded fishing dock at Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc. make it a preferred site.

“Proximity to the hatchery is going to make all the difference in the world in improving catch rates,” Glynn said. “Having said that, having more of a separation from the fish ladder, than what currently exists… would eliminate some of the congestion that occurs there.”

And while catch rates will still be high, fishers at the new location will be less likely to inadvertently snag a salmon.

Glynn said over time private and public development has taken the Gastineau Channel shoreline.

“The bottom line is there is not a lot available right now,” Glynn said. “There is the floating dock by the hatchery, an area that people utilize south of the Juneau Douglas Bridge and the shoreline near sheep creek.”

Glynn said he would like to see a dedicated stretch of coastline that will be available to the public in perpetuity.

“Once it is tied up by business it out of the public realm,” Glynn said.

Fisheries Development Committee Chair Jim Beck said roadside fishing has ranked high in past community surveys. Interested fishers have contacted the committee directly, he said.

However, even with considerable public support, road-side fishing sites remain scarce.

“It is one of those things where all of the elements are there but no one has picked up and run with it,” Beck said of the proposed cul-de-sac project.

The committee is also interested in a site at the Marine Park under the Gastineau Channel Bridge.

The cul-de-sac “seems to be the most doable right away,” Beck said.

Currently the site is a weedy asphalt circle at the end of Channel Drive.

“It will need a little bit of infrastructure,” Beck said. “A safe way to get down to the water’s edge, toilets, signs. Or it can be a full blown operation, but that is all in the future.”

Chair of the Assembly Lands Committee Carlton Smith said committee members tasked city staff to bring back information about costs and what user groups might be served by the site. He asked what would be involved for the CBJ to allow fishers on the site.

“We needed more information,” Smith said.

Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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