Last fall the Juneau Assembly requested that Trail Mix facilitate a process to evaluate commercial activity on the Juneau trail system. The group was asked to recommend to land management agencies and the assembly which trails should be available for commercially guided activities and which trails should be reserved for noncommercial use. A working group of citizens, agency representatives and small business-owners was formed, and has worked over the winter months on this project.
A community-wide survey asking for opinions on the use of Juneau's trails was mailed to all residents in early February. Approximately 750 surveys were completed. The information is being used to guide the development of recommendations which will be presented to the assembly, State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service. It is the group's intent to recommend a balance of uses within each of the community's eight recreational sub-areas taking into account types of trail experience and local impacts to neighborhoods and the community. Trail use recommendations will be incorporated as a chapter into the upcoming update of the Area-Wide Trails Plan.
Of the city trails, the assembly recognizes Kaxdawahendei, from Montana Creek to River Road, as the only trail where commercial activity is not permitted. Applications for commercial use of all other city trails are reviewed for two years permitting by the Parks and Recreation Department. State and federal agencies have separate permitting processes for their public lands.
In the last few years proposed commercial developments have led to public concern over the future uses of city public recreation lands. The need to plan ahead for the future is becoming more and more important. Small business owners need to be able to plan ahead, and the general public needs to understand how their favorite recreational areas will be used. Juneau's world-class trail system offers many diverse choices. Proper care of the trails and a shared management philosophy among the three agency landowners will preserve quality experiences for all trail users. The process identified by the Trails Working Group has brought the land management agencies and the public together to work on this important task.
Committee members are: James King, Sandy Warner, Ken Leghorn, Ron Schonenbach, Bob Janes, Cindi Lagondakis, Alice Rarip, Bill Garry, Pete Griffin, Gary Mendevil, Bob Grochow, Kim Keifer and myself.
This is an opportunity to sensibly plan ahead for the future. With proper care and an area-wide vision for how commercial use will be managed, our fantastic trail system will continue to delight trail enthusiasts from here and far away. Please attend the community meeting hosted by the Trails Working Group on Thursday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall. The results of the trails survey and preliminary recommendations will be presented, and public testimony will be taken. Hope to see you there.
Cathy Munoz is a member of the Juneau Assembly.