'Biggest summer ever' for Trail Mix

Posted: Friday, July 09, 2010

It's by far the biggest summer for restoration and work to Juneau's trail system in Trail Mix's 17-year history, says Trail Mix Executive Director George Schaaf.

"A lot of projects we've been working on for a long time all came together this year," he said.

One of the largest of those is the new Under Thunder Trail in the Mendenhall Valley.

Schaaf said Trail Mix employees have been making "great progress" on the trail since beginning work in May.

The Under Thunder Trail will go from the end of Valley Boulevard toward the Mendenhall Glacier, eventually connecting to the Powerline Trail, which connects with the Trail of Time near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

The trail is a new one; Schaaf said there are many "social trails" in the area, many created by unauthorized ATV use. One of the goals of the project is to protect the headwaters of Jordan Creek by concentrating activity and use to one trail, he said.

Trail Mix hopes to complete the first part of the project by the end of this season.

Other projects Trail Mix is working on include:

• a new 50-foot bridge on Treadwell Ditch across Lawson Creek. The bridge will be in a different location, on more stable ground and in less of an alluvial fan area, allowing for a shorter bridge than would otherwise be necessary. It also has an improved snow-load rating, Schaaf said.

Schaaf said the group intends to build 10 new bridges between Blueberry Hills and Gastineau Meadow on the Treadwell Ditch trail.

• work on the Nordic Loop trail at Eaglecrest

• work on the Mount Juneau trail to the summit. This is a restoration project started about six years ago, stopped when it ran out of funding. Trail Mix now has the funding to finish it.

• repairs to the Oliver Inlet tram on Admiralty Island

• work at Point Bridget, between Cowee Meadow and the beach

• doing brush and railing work on Perseverance Trail

Also, City Parks and Landscapes superintendent Kevin Brady said SAGA volunteers will start working with the city July 26.

The Treadwell Mine historical trail is their first priority, Brady said. Then, the volunteers will be working on other projects and trails through the rest of the summer.

Schaaf said Trail Mix has about a dozen employees working on different trail projects all over town.

Work on the Under Thunder and Eaglecrest trails is funded by the Alaska Trails initiative, a federal earmark most recently from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Schaaf said. Statewide, the earmark was for $1.9 million. The Under Thunder Trail received $289,000 of that. Eaglecrest applied separately for money for the work to Eaglecrest trails, he said.

Mount Juneau work is funded under the Federal Recreational Trails program, a nationwide grant program for trails all over the country. Oliver Inlet and Point Bridget work is funded by Alaska State Parks. The Lawson Creek Bridge and other bridges are funded by the city and borough of Juneau.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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