My Turn: Working to acheive snowmobile access

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009

Two years ago I attended a public meeting at Centennial Hall regarding an application from the Juneau Snowmobile Club for the use of certain lands at Eaglecrest after the ski season ended. What started out as an informative discussion soon became a controversial and overwhelming public expression that there should be no snowmobile use permitted at Eaglecrest. Consequently, the club's application was denied.

This prompted a few people to do something to help the Snowmobile Club, including myself. I joined a volunteer ad hoc group in May 2007, called the Juneau Alpine Working Group. Our mission is to "collaboratively identify recreational access to high elevation alpine terrain to benefit as many users as possible."

As a retired forester with nearly 40 years of service with the Forest Service in the California and Alaska Regions, I was quite familiar with administering controversial public land use issues, and this approach seemed logical to me.

So the effort got underway. For two years, the ad hoc Alpine Working Group worked diligently to come up with a proposal they could live with. In November 2008 they adopted a proposal for construction of a new Blackerby Ridge access trail. The trailhead would be off the Lemon Creek Trail, adjacent to Home Depot, and would end on Blackerby Ridge at an elevation of 2,500 feet. It would replace the existing Blackerby Ridge Trail, which starts off Wire Street behind Jack's Plumbing Company.

Now, a new volunteer organization has been formed to carry on what AWG started. It's called the Juneau Blackerby Ridge Organization (JBRO), spear-headed by Ray Howard, president of the Juneau Snowmobile Club, and me. Our mission is quite simple: To promote and help develop the new Blackerby Ridge access trail. Sounds easy, doesn't it, to merely implement the proposal. But I'm not so naive to think that it's going to be easy - I know there will be more hurdles - but a lot of them have already been crossed, and I'm confident that new ones can be handled.

Some of you may already know about this project, and some may have been wondering about what's been going on lately. For that reason, I have created and published a new Web site that deals specifically with the proposed new trail construction: www.juneaublackerbyridge.org. Our e-mail address is jbro@gci.net. Anyone who can access these sites can learn all about what has happened during the last couple of years, and what is underway at the moment. There are several links that provide detailed information about the overall plan.

Please contact either Ray Howard or me if you have any questions or comments. We will be happy to hear from you, with any opinions that you may have. I'm not a Web site expert, but I'll do my best to keep the site maintained with pertinent information for everyone.

In summarizing my own opinion, I'd like to leave this one last thought: When I came up with the JBRO domain site, I had to dream up a password. I chose "1accessforall". This expresses my belief in trying to be open-minded about controversial land use issues.

• Bob Janes is a retired member of the U.S. Forest Service and a longtime Douglas resident.



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