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Sales tax will help everyone gain access to the trail system

Posted: October 1, 2012 - 11:00pm

I encourage Juneau’s outdoor community to vote for the 1 percent sales tax on the ballot today. Trail Mix, Inc. has worked closely with CBJ Parks and Recreation and the Parks and Rec. Advisory Committee to include four trail projects in the 1 percent sales tax. These projects were chosen for the benefits they would provide to the entire network of Juneau’s world class trails. If approved the tax would fund the construction or rehabilitation of nearly five miles of trail and create connections that would benefit over 40 miles of trail system.

Stretching from Eaglecrest to downtown Douglas, the Treadwell Ditch Trail has the potential to be one of the premier hiking and mountain biking trails in Juneau. Unfortunately, years of neglect have left navigable sections isolated from the whole; separated by missing bridges and washouts. Through partnerships with the USFS and CBJ Parks and Recreation, Trail Mix has worked hard to address these issues, and next year we will start construction on four bridges over major drainages between the Bonnie Brae Trail, and the Dan Moller Trail. The bridge over Paris Creek that is proposed in the 1 percent sales tax would be one of the last major links needed in this 15-mile-long trail.

Only half a mile separates the Auke Lake Trail, and the recently renovated Lower Montana Creek Trail. A connection between the two, funded by the sales tax would connect the Auke Lake and U.A.S. Trail systems with the Mendenhall Valley Trail system. This connection would also create a loop when the proposed bike path between the Brotherhood Bridge and UAS is constructed.

The Horse Tram trail connects the Amalga Meadows Trail and the Boy Scout Beach Trail, however in its current state it is far too muddy for regular use. The 1 percent sales tax would provide funding to widen and harden it. The steep and wet nature of our temperate rainforest provides few opportunities for mobility-impaired individuals to enjoy the forest that others often take for granted.

The proposed improvements to the Horse Tram Trail would upgrade it from a mucky rarely used trail into a gravel path wide enough for wheel chairs, creating an opportunity for those who are unable to access the wilderness we are surrounded with.

Multiday hikes in Juneau are rare. The Montana Creek/Windfall Lake trail is one of the few that can fit that description.

This historic trail, which has long since fallen into disrepair could once again fulfill that role. A capital improvement project funded by the City and Borough of Juneau fixed the erosion and drainage issues on the Lower Montana Creek trail last year. The 1 percent sales tax would repair the next portion of that trail.

Currently this flooded, rutted trail is used only by the most sure-footed of fisherman. Once improved, not only would add another link to the entire Montana Creek Trail, but it would also open up one of the best fly-fishing opportunities in Juneau.

As residents of Alaska’s Capital City, we enjoy one of the best trail systems in the world, but such a system requires attention. Please join me and vote for one of the best parts of Juneau.

• Boraas is the executive director of Trail Mix Inc.

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