Lena Beach Recreation Area Renovation. Dear National Forest User:

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1 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Alaska Region Tongass National Forest Juneau Ranger District 8510 Mendenhall Loop Juneau, AK Phone: (907) Fax: (907) File Code: 1950 Date: February 26, 2014 Dear National Forest User: The US Forest Service, Juneau Ranger District, wants your input on three recreation projects intended to improve conditions, safety, and use at three existing recreation sites. The three projects, Lena Beach Recreation Area Renovation, West Glacier Spur Road Area Enhancements, and Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Construction are being proposed and considered as three separate projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Forest Service is sharing information on all three of these projects at the same time and is holding a single public open house on March 10, 2014, to provide additional information about all three projects. This letter contains one vicinity map, Figure A, to show you where the three projects are in Juneau. In this letter, each proposed project is described separately and each has a site drawing or maps for your review (Figures A E). As you read through the description of these projects think about what and why: what information would you like us to provide, what concerns do you have, what changes might you like to see to our design, and why do you have concerns or want changes? In your input on these projects, please provide separate comments for each project, and be sure to identify which comments are related to which project. Contact information and instructions on providing comments are included at the end of this letter. Your comments on these projects are due by April 18, Lena Beach Recreation Area Renovation Background Lena Beach Recreation Area is located at about mile 17 along Glacier Highway, northwest of Juneau, Alaska. It is approximately 30 acres, and was set aside in 1952 as a public campground. Although designed as a campground, it has only been developed and used as a day use facility. There are three entrances to the recreation site; one from the highway and two from Lena Loop Road. The site includes an anadromous fish stream. The site receives use by Juneau residents every day of the year. Purpose and need why do this? Lena Beach/West Glacier/Treadwell Ditch Open House March 10, 2014, 5:30-7:30 pm Juneau Ranger District Office, 8510 Mendenhall Loop Road AGENDA: Brief presentation at 5:30 and 6:30 to describe the proposals and the analysis process Time for questions and answers after presentations Write or drop off specific comments at the meeting, if desired The purpose of this proposal is to address safety concerns, environmental issues, deferred maintenance, and the functionality of the high use Lena Beach Recreation Area. The Tongass Forest Plan (2008) directs the Forest Service to maintain high use recreation sites for the health and safety of all users; to maintain riparian areas with natural stream banks and stream channel processes; to provide barrier-free, Caring for the Land and Serving People Printed on Recycled Paper

2 accessible facilities appropriate to the site development level and area Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) setting; and to maintain roads, as necessary, to provide passage of planned traffic. This project is needed because the condition and design of the Lena Beach Recreation Area no longer provides a quality recreation experience, or resource protection, for the following reasons: 1) The road through the site (National Forest System Road - NFSR 8451) is prone to potholes. The traveled way regularly widens as people stray off the gravel surface to avoid potholes. Sediment from the gravel road is transported into the stream off the roadway. 2) Parking is limited at this site and is currently not efficiently designed to maximize space. 3) Vandalism occurs regularly at this site including illegal dumping and damage to recreation facilities. 4) Access trails to current outhouses and shelters, outhouse buildings, and picnic tables do not meet trail accessibility standards. 5) The five picnic shelters at the Lena Beach site have posts that are rotted and/or have been damaged by vandalism and environmental conditions. Some shelter sites are not up to current accessibility standards. 6) One picnic shelter is rarely used, presumably because it lacks nearby parking, and is not easily visible or accessible. 7) Picnic shelter sites are very popular. There is demand for larger, more developed shelters that can be reserved during the summer time in Juneau. 8) Two of six outhouse vaults are closed due to leaking tanks, potentially affecting water quality, human health and safety, and anadromous fish habitat. 9) The anadromous stream at the site runs through four undersize culverts and empties into a concrete fish ladder. The culverts and the ladder are a partial barrier for fish passage. 10) Old growth tree roots are being damaged by foot and vehicular traffic, and some of the shelter and picnic pads are eroding. 11) The Forest Service successfully competed for Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) dollars administered by the Federal Highway Administration which will allow the Forest Service to renovate this site over the next few years. Lena Beach Recreation Area Renovation Proposed Action Figure B Please see Figure B for the Lena Beach Proposed Action. To address the concerns and improve the site in the Lena Beach area the Juneau Ranger District proposes to: Change the road through the Lena Beach Recreation Area to a one-way road in a clockwise direction with one entrance and one exit; pave the road and parking areas; install a curb and speed bumps; paint diagonal parking lines; and add additional parking; Install two gates; gates will be used to close the road for emergency and administrative needs;

3 Reconstruct all shelters, in place, but turned 90 degrees to maximize views and direct water away from the view. This would include adding concrete pads to all sites to improve accessibility and making one shelter a large, more developed fee shelter available for reservations during the summer; Replace six one-unit vault outhouses in three locations with two two-unit, fully accessible vault outhouses in two locations, and move them closer to the road to improve maintenance and accessibility standards; Connect site features with fully accessible trails to meet standards and to protect tree root systems. The stairs at the shelter closest to Glacier Highway would be replaced by an accessible trail ramp; Replace one or more fire rings with larger fire rings; Install bear-resistant, garbage cans close to shelters and provide summer garbage removal service; Improve fish passage by: installing a bridge over the existing Picnic Creek channel, removing the fish ladder on Picnic Creek below the lower culvert, restoring the channel bed to a depth of the average channel slope line, removing some of the backed up sediment upstream of the culvert while allowing the remaining material to wash out naturally, and modifying the alignment of the channel downstream of the lower culvert; Fabricate and install directional and informational signs, including signs to indicate shelter names; and Close and convert one entrance off of Lena Loop Road to provide a parking pad for a host site; and install utilities at the host site. Ongoing maintenance of the site, including some tree and brush trimming or removal, grading and maintenance of trails, and structure maintenance, would occur and would continue. Implementation is expected to begin in 2015 and last up to 2 years.

4 West Glacier Spur Road Area Enhancements Background West Glacier Spur Road (#8453), sometimes referred to as Skater s Spur, is on the west shore of Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska. This area is popular and important for local and commercial use. In a very short distance, less than 1/2 mile, this road provides access to Mendenhall Lake Campground (MLCG), Skater s Cabin day use facility, a commercial and a non-commercial paddle craft launch, and the trailheads for Tolch Rock and West Glacier trails. Mendenhall Glacier is Juneau s premier attraction, and one of the top three attractions in Alaska. Six outfitter/guide companies, serving nearly 30,000 clients, conduct operations off of West Glacier Spur Road between May and October each year. Commercial use in this area includes bicycle, hiking, and boating (raft, kayak, canoe) tours. The MLCG is the largest campground on the Tongass National Forest at 70 sites. And Skater s Cabin is a rental shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that is particularly popular with local residents. Purpose and need why do this? The purpose of this proposal is to address safety concerns and the functionality of the high use West Glacier road area. The Tongass Forest Plan directs the Forest Service to maintain high use recreation sites for the health and safety of all users; to provide barrier-free, accessible facilities appropriate to the site development level and area ROS setting; and to maintain roads, as necessary, to provide passage of planned traffic. This project is needed because the condition and design of the West Glacier Road area present safety concerns and no longer provide a quality recreation experience for the following reasons: 1) The end of West Glacier Spur Road becomes congested in the summer season with many different uses and users. 2) The bike and pedestrian path ends at the MLCG, causing pedestrians, bikers, and bike tours to use the road to access the West Glacier area along with the bus and transportation van traffic. The current flow of mixed pedestrian and vehicle traffic can present a safety hazard. 3) Capacity for parking is limited near the campground in the winter and does not meet the demand for the popularity of cross-country skiing on the groomed trails. It has led to people parking along the main road and in the adjoining neighborhood which causes conflict with adjoining private landowners, safety concerns, and challenges for snow removal. 4) The Forest Service road has experienced annual flooding events, and there have been other administrative needs which require periodic temporary road closure for safety. No means of physical road closure is currently available. 5) The current path to the rental outhouses does not meet trail accessibility standards. 6) Commercial tours sometimes compete for space along the shoreline of Mendenhall Lake. 7) There are inadequate toilet facilities to meet the areas demands. During the summer, five portable outhouses are provided at the road s terminus, and are serviced three days a week at great expense. In the winter, no toilet facilities are available at the road s terminus.

5 8) In 2013, the Forest Service successfully competed for Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) dollars administered by the Federal Highway Administration which will allow the Forest Service to renovate this site over the next few years. West Glacier Spur Road Area Enhancements Proposed Action Figure C Please see Figure C for the West Glacier Proposed Action. To address the concerns and improve the site in the West Glacier Spur Road area the Juneau Ranger District proposes to: Construct additional parking and paint parking lines at Skater s Cabin and Tolch Rock Trail; Install a gate - the gate will be used to temporarily close the road for emergency and administrative needs; Construct a 0.4 mile bike and pedestrian trail extension to separate bike tours, cross-country skiing, and other pedestrian use from vehicular traffic. The trail would cross West Glacier Spur Road near Skater s Cabin, go a short distance perpendicular to the road, then turn north and parallel the road, and rejoin West Glacier Spur Road at its terminus. Bike racks would be installed at the terminus. The trail will be built to a standard that could allow grooming for skiing during winter; Connect the outhouses to the paddle craft launch area with fully accessible paths to meet standards; Install a six-unit vault outhouse at the road s terminus; Construct a spur trail, about 200 feet long, from the West Glacier Trail to the shore of Mendenhall Lake to provide a hardened site where visitors and commercial users can view the lake and glacier; and Fabricate and install directional and informational signs. Ongoing maintenance of the site, including some tree and brush trimming or removal, grading and maintenance of trails, and structure maintenance, would occur and would continue. Implementation is expected to begin in 2015 and last up to 2 years.

6 Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Construction Background The Treadwell Ditch Trail (NFS Trail # 33718) is a historic trail on Douglas Island near Douglas, Alaska. The trail was constructed atop the overburden of ditch construction in the early 1900 s. The ditch was designed to collect and transport water to the Treadwell complex of mines in Douglas where it was used to generate electricity for mining operations. Today, the trail is popular for hiking, mountain biking and skiing. It crosses City and Borough of Juneau, State of Alaska, and National Forest System land for a total length of about 14 miles. About 10.4 miles of the trail are on National Forest System land. The 2006 Juneau Trails Plan, prepared by Trail Mix, Inc., lists the Treadwell Ditch Trail as the highest priority trail to the community of Juneau for receiving maintenance and upgrades. Despite the popularity of the trail, it has suffered from a lack of maintenance over the years. Purpose and need why do this? The purpose of this proposal is to improve the condition of the Treadwell Ditch Trail by reducing the number of long muddy sections of trail, providing drainage crossing structures that are easy and safe to cross, and protecting the stream bed and banks at stream crossings. The Tongass Forest Plan directs managers to Construct, reconstruct, and maintain existing trails and waterways serving local community needs and tourist centers as part of the Forest transportation system. In addition, managers should design and construct bridges to support the maximum expected snow and ice load, construction or maintenance equipment, and anticipated user equipment. This project is needed because the condition and design of the Treadwell Ditch Trail presents safety concerns and does not provide a quality recreation experience, or resource protection, for the following reasons: 1) There are 39 stream crossings or other obstacles between Blueberry Hills access and Bonnie Brae access of the Treadwell Ditch Trail that do not have stream crossing structures. Trail users have to scramble down steep slopes to cross the larger creeks. This can be difficult and leads to erosion of the stream banks. 2) A section of trail south of Bonnie Brae is difficult to hike because the tread surface is a deteriorating wooden flume and because there is an open gorge with no bridge. Historically the wooden flume was built over bedrock and spanned the v-notch gorge. Currently the wood structure has collapsed, leaving an open gorge. There is an informal reroute upslope of the gorge that goes through a muskeg. This trail section is wide and muddy and not well marked where it leaves the Treadwell Ditch Trail. 3) Additionally, in an area just north of Kowee Creek, the trail is very muddy as it goes through a muskeg. 4) Recently a Determination of Eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places has been completed for the Treadwell Ditch and Maintenance Trail historic site, the base document that will be used to analyze effects to the historic site. Additionally, the District recently successfully competed for funds to replace three to four major bridges on the trail.

7 Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Construction Proposed Action Figures D & E Please see Figures D and E for the Treadwell Proposed Action. To address the concerns and improve the Treadwell Ditch Trail the Juneau Ranger District proposes to: Improve 38 crossings on the Treadwell Ditch Trail between the Blueberry Hill Access Trail and the Bonnie Brae Access Trail. Construction activities will include building structures such as shallow water fords, culverts, or bridges (glu-lam stringer bridges), or trail reroutes that will avoid the crossing; Construct approximately 350 feet of new trail to reroute around a failed section of trail tread north of the Eagle Creek crossing; Construct approximately 1,175 feet of new trail to reroute around the steep gorge section where there was historically a wooden flume just south of Bonnie Brae; and Harden approximately 500 feet of muddy trail section by installing a gravel tread through a muskeg just north of the Kowee Creek Bridge. Two crossings at Eagle Creek, and one at North Fork Eagle Creek, are expected to be addressed during the summer of 2015 if funding is sufficient for all three structures. Trail construction is also expected to begin in 2015 and last up to 2 years. The remaining crossings will be addressed in subsequent years, contingent on acquiring funds. Juneau Ranger District is beginning to write Environmental Assessments for these projects; one for each proposal. We want to make sure we identify and consider anything that concerns you about these projects. You are encouraged to get involved in these analyses by helping identify items to be considered, potential project design additions or alternatives, and the potential impacts of the projects. Please examine the enclosed maps, and send us your specific comments about each, individual project. Your comments should identify any specific concerns or issues to be considered or suggestions to improve or change the projects, and explain the supporting reason why you have these concerns or suggestions. We also want to inform you that our new regulations at 36 CFR 218 now provide for a pre-decision administrative review rather than a post-decision appeal process. If you provide timely and specific written comments about these proposed projects during this comment period, you will be eligible to file an objection during the objection period (36 CFR (a)(3) for further requirements). For objection eligibility, your comments must be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider. Your name and contact information submitted with comments will become part of the public record. Please provide specific written comments to: Ed Grossman Juneau Ranger District, 8510 Mendenhall Loop Road, Juneau, AK FAX: (please put Lena Beach, W. Glacier, or Treadwell Ditch in the subject line) Juneau District Ranger Brad Orr is the responsible official. If you have questions or want more information about these projects, please contact Ed Grossman, Recreation Program Manager, at (907) , or bring them to the March 10 open house. Keep up to date on each project via the project website at:

8 Lena Beach: (case sensitive) West Glacier: (case sensitive) Treadwell Ditch: (case sensitive) If you would like to be on the mailing list for any of these projects and receive future information about the project via please sign up at each individual website above by clicking the "Subscribe to Updates" link (please contact to be added to the Treadwell Ditch list). If you want to remain on the hardcopy mailing list: please respond to Ed Grossman at the address or phone number above (only those who respond are assured of receiving future mailings). Comments should be sent or hand-delivered by April18, 2014, in order to be fully considered in the analysis and eligible for participating in objections. We appreciate your input. Thanks for your interest and participation in management of your National Forests! Sincerely, BRAD ORR District Ranger Attachments cc: Michelle K Putz, Ed Grossman, Mike Dilger

9 Figure A- Project Vicinity - Lena Beach Recreation Area Renovation, West Glacier Spur Road Enhancements, Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Co nstruction ' \... \ \ \ ~ West Glacier -. ' Len a Beach Auke B ay..... \..., ~, / I ( ~ I.,.10:'.! - r- l J /,/.-,_ I """ ~, T 'I.~.- ra1 s ---.._ Roads t l II& Non-Forest Service Lands II& Forest Service Lands Douglas Island Miles

10 SHELTER PROPOSED TRAIL BEACH LENA COVE BEACH CREEK SHELTER PROPOSED 2-ROOM TOILET BEACH REMOVE CONCRETE STEPS & REPLACE WITH SLOPING, BARRIER-FREE GRAVEL TRAIL SHELTER GATE EXISTING TOILETS CLOSE THIS ROAD SEGMENT & REVEGETATE. HOST SITE SHELTER LENA LOOP ROAD FISH PASS PICNIC PROPOSED STREAM ENHANCEMENT WORK IN THIS AREA PICNIC PICNIC EXISTING TOILETS GROUP SHELTER PROPOSED 2-ROOM TOILET CREEK ONE SPACE STEEP STEEP GATE GLACIER HIGHWAY EXISTING TOILETS SCALE IN FEET TO JUNEAU LENA BEACH RECREATION AREA RENOVATIONS FIGURE B

11 New Kiosk West Glacier Trail (3.5 miles) Group Bike Storage (Non-locking) New 200 Trail and Viewpoint Remove or Screen Boulder Storage Restroom Location with Accessible Approach: 6-Hole SST Building or Concrete Pad for Portable Toilets Tolch Rock Trail (0.4 miles) Aggregate Trails between Site Elements Boulder Seating on Beach ~30 Trail Bridge Public Beach Access Trail Trailhead Sign 10 wide aggregate Multi-use Trail (~0.4 miles) Expand Tolch Rock Parking (8-10 spaces total) Trailhead Sign Existing Speedbump Construct Parking Area across from Skater s Cabin (12-14 spaces) Trail Map Existing SST Administrative Gate Installed at USFS boundary Skater s Cabin Existing Speedbump Existing Asphalt Bike Path Feb. 24, 2014 Figure C- West Glacier Spur Road Area Enhancements Juneau Ranger District, Tongass National Forest

12 Figure D Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Construction Proposed Action

13 Figure E Treadwell Ditch Trail Bridge Construction Close-up of Reroute

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