My Turn: Support needed to push for handicapped-accessible cabin

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009

We, the members of Juneau State Parks Advisory Board, urge you to support our proposal to the state legislature for the first ever handicapped-accessible state public-use cabin in Southeast Alaska. The proposed cabin will be located at Eagle Beach State Recreation Area, 27 miles north of Juneau on Glacier Highway. The Advisory Board needs your support if we are going to be successful.

Presently, the state's three public-use cabins at Point Bridget State Park, located 30 miles north of Juneau, are accessible from the road, but require a two-mile hike over some moderately rough terrain. You can also reach the cabins by boat but must land on the beach. This means the cabins are out of reach for anyone with a serious mobility issue.

The Eagle Beach cabin will not be limited to people with disabilities but will be available to everyone. It will unlock recreational opportunities for a wide variety of people, such as: families with young children; senior citizens; and persons with disabilities. The Eagle Beach cabin will be accessible by car. That is access with a capital A.

Eagle Beach State Recreation Area is a developed campground with bathrooms, water, campfire sites, picnic shelter and a RV park. State Parks typically has a maintenance person on site all year. During the summer, a campground host is also available. The area is well supervised and well maintained.

As many in Juneau know, Eagle Beach offers an exceptional wealth of spectacular views and wildlife. Children have run of the sandy ocean beach. Whales, sea lions and sea otters are a common sight. There's berry picking, salmon runs and flocks of migrating birds. In winter, there is cross country skiing around the Eagle Beach campground and nearby meadows.

The Board is asking the legislature for $50,000 to pay for cabin materials only. Volunteers will assist with construction of the cabin, such as they did at Point Bridget. With the collection of user fees, the Eagle Beach cabin should pay for itself within five years.

Everyone benefits, the public gains a unique cabin and the state actually makes money.

The Advisory Board's mission is to provide wilderness opportunities for all residents of Juneau, including those who might not be able make arduous hikes to the back country. We can start those opportunities now with a cabin at Eagle Beach. We need your support.

Alice Rarig, chairman, and the rest of the members of the Juneau State Parks Advisory Board


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