Keep trails wild

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2000

The Empire's article regarding the Juneau trails meeting, held on March 23, failed to mention that most of the people present, with the exception of tour operators, had reservations and concerns about the growth of commercial use on our trails.

At the meeting attended by over 75 people many residents expressed fears of overcrowding on trails used by commercial groups. These people felt that overuse would limit the tranquil natural experiences hikers value, hurt our unique habitat and damage the trails themselves. Commercial groups of 12 individuals are currently allowed on certain local trails, but there is no limit on the number of groups that can be guided each day. Several people suggested restricting the number of tour groups that may use each trail on a daily basis, so independent hikers will not encounter several groups during their walks.

Commercial use of trails was opposed in several areas. Residents favored prohibiting commercial groups on ridges. Use of Douglas Island was a particular concern. Many people wished to ban commercial guiding from the island's wild regions and the Eaglecrest Ski Area because of the island's heavy use as a hunting and recreation area by local residents. There was a general feeling that Granite Creek is a treasure and access should be limited to individual hikers. The head of the Kayak Club objected to commercial groups using Sunshine Cove. The club feels that kayakers need one quiet place out the road.

Self-guiding trail maps were mentioned by some people as an alternative to commercial tours on overcrowded trails such as those by the Mendenhall Glacier. Also, many residents felt Perseverance Trail is already overused by individual walkers, joggers and bikers.

We hope that the people who were not at the meeting now have a better understanding as to what actually occurred there. What most individuals at the meeting wanted was limits set on the growth of commercial tour activities, so independent users can still enjoy Juneau's wild regions.

Sylvia Gard, Anita L. Statter, Ann P. Boochever & Ardyne Womack Juneau

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