In coming weeks trail users and Juneau Airport maintenance staff will be working together to clear overgrown branches from the Airport Dike Trail. We are looking for volunteers to help.
The trail serves as an emergency access route for fire and rescue equipment in the event of an aircraft accident away from the runway. The primary vehicle that needs to be accommodated on the trail is the large, lime green fire truck that is seen around the airport performing drills. Thanks to Fire Chief Dave Boddy, I was able to measure the truck, which is nearly 13 feet high and more than 10 feet wide. Ambulances and pickups might be used on the trail for emergencies also.
On Nov. 23, I toured the trail with Airport Manager Allan Heese and Airfield Ops-Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Mahle to review the planned limbing operation. They assured me that no trees would be cut as the crew removes spruce, cottonwood and alder branches that presently would obstruct passage of emergency equipment. Some alders will need to be cut at ground level. Similar brush removal that trimmed limbs on one side of the spruce trunks without damaging the trees occurred some years ago. This is the same proposal. Additionally, some erosion holes will be filled.
What will be different this year is that citizen volunteers will assist by directing dogs and trail users safely around heavy equipment and by answering questions. This will allow airport staff to concentrate on the critical equipment operation. Volunteers will also pick up cut brush so it can be transported off the trail by airport staff or chipped. Due to liability issues, volunteers will not be operating equipment.
Scheduling will depend on weather and other staff duties. The ideal condition is a calm day when the crew is not needed for snow removal. Most likely the effort will occur on Wednesdays and Thursdays when extra airport staff is available.
I would like to thank Al and Jerry for accepting our offer to help in this cooperative effort. With the airport facing significant revenue losses and increased expenses due to enhanced security since Sept. 11, this is a fine opportunity for citizens to contribute time and labor in a collaborative effort that benefits the city.
Stewardship can take many forms and this is a perfect way for those of us who enjoy the trail on a regular basis to work with the property managers on improving emergency services. It is yet another example of the Airport Dike Trail's role as Juneau's most uncommon common ground.
We will need two-to-four volunteers to work morning or afternoon sessions. To volunteer, please call me at 789-2768.
Laurie Ferguson Craig