Douglas residents question golf course's effect on fish

Locals concerned about pesticide use

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Some North Douglas residents Tuesday questioned the environmental impacts of a proposed golf course on a city-owned wooded wetland area and called for a public vote on the issue.

Members of the North Douglas Neighborhood Association met Tuesday night at the Douglas Library with developers from Totem Creek Inc., a local nonprofit group funded by the Juneau Golf Club, and with representatives of the state Department of Fish and Game.

The proposed 125-acre golf course is slated for land about a mile past the end of North Douglas Highway and about a half a mile above Peterson Creek, a salmon and trout stream.

Developers applied for a city conditional use permit in 1997. As part of that process, they have responded to requests by Fish and Game to redesign the course to minimize environmental impacts.

But people who live near the site are skeptical that environmental hazards such as pesticides, deforestation and fecal contamination have been addressed fully.

"I wonder whether it's worth it to build this with all these potential risks to the environment and all these unknowns," said North Douglas resident Mary Friberg. "I think people are frustrated and concerned with this project because we really have no information about this project and its long-term effects."

Residents voiced the most concern that pesticides, which they feared would be used to maintain greens, would endanger local fish populations.

Totem Creek board member Peter Metcalfe said there are no plans to use pesticides - which include chemicals used to kill weeds, fungus and insects - on the course.

"Everyone assumes we are going to be spraying all kinds of s --- out there and killing off the fish or blinding them and making them dizzy so they can't find their way home," said Metcalfe. "We aren't. We won't. We don't want to. It's a myth."

If ever it was necessary to use a pesticide, however, he said a chemical approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation would be used in spot applications on the tees and greens, not near watersheds.

Residents asked the developers to hold a public meeting to present information about the redesigned course, and to put on a city ballot the question of whether there should be a golf course on that site.

"I guarantee it would win overwhelmingly if put to a vote," Metcalfe said. "I'm not going to advocate it, but by God go ahead."

Melanie Plenda can be reached at

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