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Mapping out a plan for the `Green Zone'

Posted: Friday, June 02, 2000

There is an area of Juneau that some call the ``Juneau Green Zone.''

It stretches from Tee Harbor to Berners Bay. Within it lies a beloved spiritual center, several recreational camps owned by nonprofit organizations and churches, and well-used public recreational areas.

Land ownership in the Green Zone includes 54 homeowners in five clusters, four camps, one Native corporation and several branches of federal, state and local government.

The City and Borough of Juneau's Comprehensive Plan includes the recommendation to ``develop a comprehensive, interagency plan for Tee Harbor to Berners Bay which recognizes, protects and enhances the multiple recreational and educational programs found in that area.'' (Comp. Plan CBJ, 1966, pp. 144). With pressing demands in other areas, the Community Development Department has not yet been able to do this planning.

Through a monetary award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Mary Lou King presented funding to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust (SEALTrust) to develop an ownership map and a report of possible land use alternatives for the Green Zone. The map is designed to help the general public better visualize the make-up of the area and as an aid for the agencies that will do the recommended ``Interagency Plan.''

A preliminary draft of a color map illustrating Green Zone land ownership patterns has now been prepared. Designed in seven colors to differentiate among them, it shows private camps, other private lands, state recreation lands, state parks, CBJ lands, CBJ parks and Tongass National Forest lands. While all agencies know where their own boundaries are, these boundaries have never before been included on a single map.

SEALTrust has sent letters to each of these owners/managers asking what they do now and what is their vision for the future. SEALTrust is a recently formed nonprofit corporation, one of some 500 Land Trusts nationwide and four in Alaska. The mission of Land Trusts is to help land owners achieve their own goals for their property.

Often landowners would like to preserve portions of their properties, but they feel pressured by urban sprawl, strip development and local tax structures into relinquishing treasured lands.

Land trusts can often help land owners through legal strategies, tax breaks and the sort of land use visioning of this project. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Juneau Audubon Society and Taku Conservation Society are also providing SEALTrust with financial support for this effort.

Response to these letters to property owners has been slow so far. Those who wish to be included in the final report need to get their responses to SEALTrust. In most cases a one- or two-page letter will do.

SEALTrust's final report will not include recommendations.

It will include what people and agencies of the area want the community to know about what they are doing, what their future plans are and how they would like the Green Zone to be managed in the future.

The report will try to identify future management alternatives among which the community will need to make some selections, such as more or less park development, more trails, needs for CBJ land sales, road changes and sewer or water management.

Those who worry that this might be an anti-development exercise should consider that the world class spiritual/educational/recreation camps of the Green Zone form one of the few CBJ economic engines with an unlimited potential for attracting independent travelers and residents seeking the quality of life it provides. Thus this effort is worthy of support from business interests as well as conservationists.

It is the hope of SEALTrust that better understanding of the Green Zone will help the people of Juneau manage its unique values for maximum benefit. SEALTrust can be reached at 586-3100.

Jim King is a member of SEALTrust. Juneau Audubon Society will resume monthly meetings in September. Field trips continue through June. E-mail Audubon members at ckent@alaska.net



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