Snowmobiles should not be allowed at Eaglecrest Ski Area

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2007

Motorized vehicles are incompatible with the intended use of the Eaglecrest Ski Area and should not be allowed or encouraged in any way.

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First, The Juneau Snowmobile Club's proposal suggests that allowing snowmobiles access will increase revenue at the ski area. The vague promise of materials and labor is neither binding nor measurable. There is no way to require or police a ticket system for snowmobiles using the area outside of operational hours. And when would they buy meals if the lodge is closed when they are there? Snowmobile access, even within the prescribed corridors, will require increased grooming and trail maintenance costs.

Second, certainly most snowmobilers are good people, but the club is simply not capable of policing the behavior of all snowmobilers, as evidenced by boundary problems at Spaulding Meadows and Dan Moller. A few snowmobilers disobeying the boundaries, littering and vandalizing will be expensive and detrimental to the ski area. Imagine the costs of re-grooming Sourdough daily to erase snowmobile ruts and to remove damaged trees, signs and fences. Dealing with increased trash and vandalism will be costly, too. The suggestion that a video camera in the parking lot would be effective is laughable. How would a camera prove which snowmobiler committed an offense on the hill?

Lastly, there is an inherent safety issue. Possible scenarios include: A skier could be run over by a snowmobiler; a snowmobile could crash into a snowcat working in the middle of the night; and a snowmobiler could be buried in an out-of-bounds avalanche, requiring rescue that risks the lives of everyone involved. If snowmobilers get there way, it would just be a matter of time before one of these incidents occurs.

Equal access to public land is not equal when it results in the degradation of an area specifically designed and built for thousands of skiers, so that fewer than 280 people can enjoy it at no expense and with no enforceable rules. You wouldn't open up a cordoned off swimming area for personal watercraft just so everyone could have equal access -this would be exactly the same thing, only on a bigger scale.

I encourage all skiers to write to Kirk Duncan, Eaglecrest's general manager, before May 15, as well as to the Assembly because the choice is ultimately theirs, even if the Eaglecrest Board recommends against motorized use. Send emails to: kirk_duncan@ci.juneau.ak.us and borough_assembly@ci.juneau.ak.us.

Sheila Box

Juneau



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