Gravel mining sought near Boy Scout camp

Extraction plan near Herbert River linked to limiting of access

Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Another element has entered the controversy over the locked gate on the trail to the Boy Scout camp near Eagle Beach.

William "Shorty" Tonsgard, owner of Channel Construction, is applying to the city's Community Development Department for permission to mine gravel along the Herbert River. There is a connection between that planned gravel extraction and his limiting of access, said his permitting agent, Murray Walsh of Walsh Planning and Development Services.

"The original reason for the Boy Scout road was to reach national forest lands," Walsh said Tuesday. "Those lands have now reverted to state and city ownership.

"The Boy Scout road, which is distinct from the Herbert River Road, is actually an easement rather than a true right-of-way. According to the terms of the easement, it will revert if certain things stop happening," Walsh said.

Those things are maintenance of the road and use by the federal government. Because Tonsgard has seen neither maintenance nor use, he is asserting his exclusive right to the easement, Walsh said. Tonsgard is providing the local council of Boy Scouts with a key to the lock on the gate, but general public access has been denied for about a month.

The gravel mining would take place on about two acres of flat area near the river about 100 yards to the north of the Boy Scout road, Walsh said. The permit application asks to extract about 25,000 cubic yards per year for 10 years.

Both gravel (also called aggregate) and sand would be extracted, with sales of the aggregate aimed at concrete contractors, Walsh said. Tonsgard hopes to begin mining this winter.

"There are various fish protection windows which make January and February the best months, but we do not know if the permitting (process) will be finished by then," Walsh said.

In 1999, Channel Construction was granted approval to harvest up to 15 acres of timber in the area.

The state Department of Transportation has asked Tonsgard to remove the gate.

Sylvia Kreel, a planner with the Community Development Department, confirmed this morning that Tonsgard originally submitted an application for gravel mining two weeks ago. "But it was incomplete. They just brought in the completed application Nov. 22," she said.

The application must be reviewed by the Engineering Department and others before it goes before the Juneau Planning Commission for approval. Kreel said the hearing probably would occur in January.

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