Many open to allowing tours on local trails

City proposal would let tour groups on 18 out if 63 trails considered

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2000

About half of area residents who responded to a survey don't mind some commercial use of local hiking trails. A city advisory group used data from the audit to recommend at a Centennial Hall presentation Thursday night that 18 of the 63 city trails considered be made available for commercial permitting.

Of the city's nearly 100 trails, all but a portion of one - the Montana Creek Trail - are currently available to commercial applicants. Thirteen are now used for commercial tours.

The Trails Working Group's recommendations met with some hikers' spirited objection - one suggested that the Treadwell Mine's ``arsenic-laced tailings'' would be fine for commercial tours. But most comments, including those of commercial guides, were accommodating.

``It was an excellent opportunity for people to get together,'' said Gastineau Guiding General Manager Marsha Squires. ``We're willing and interested to hear people's concerns.''

The company helped guide some 15,000 Juneau visitors on city and Forest Service trails last summer, Squires said.

Gastineau guides hikers on the Perseverance Trail, Mount Roberts Loop and the East and West Glacier trails.

``The news is that there's a considerable amount of agreement and people (testifying at the meeting) were very respectful of one another,'' said Alice Rarig, a working group member and president of Trail Mix, a trail maintenance and development group.

``There's been a considerable amount of work that's developed into a consensus,'' Rarig said.

Of the 10 trails considered in the area designated ``out the road,'' four were recommended for commercial use permitting: Ernest Gruening State Historic Site, the Herbert Glacier Trail, Sunshine Cove Beach Access, and the SAGA Beach Trail. Permitting already applies to all four.

In the ``ferry terminal'' area, only the West Glacier Trail and the Auke Lake Launch Ramp Access Trail will remain open to commercial use. Smugglers Cove Beach Access has been removed from the commercial list.

In the ``East Mendenhall'' area, three existing commercial use trails will maintain that designation and two more will be opened up: Moraine Ecology/Fish Viewing Trail and Photo Point.

The ``Lemon and Switzer Creek'' area will offer the Dzantik'i Heeni School Trail System to commercial access. The trail is currently in the planning stage.

Downtown trails recommended for commercial permitting include Granite Creek Trail, Perseverance Trail and the Mount Roberts Trail above the tram.

In Douglas, the trails group gave the nod only to the Treadwell Mine Historic Loop Trail at Savikko Park.

Eaglecrest trails and Outer Point Trail were the only two considered for North Douglas. The group chose Eaglecrest because of ``current winter commercial activity, low `neighborhood' impact and existing infrastructure for parking, restrooms, etc.''

The trails group will consider further, written comments until March 28. Comments should be sent to Trails Working Group, c/o Parks and Recreation, 155 South Seward St., Juneau, 99801. All comments will be considered at the group's meeting at noon, April 4, at the downtown library.

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