In this June 2016 file photo, Brandon Howard and Maura Selenak talk about starting up Amalga Distillery. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this June 2016 file photo, Brandon Howard and Maura Selenak talk about starting up Amalga Distillery. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Distillery covers cost of stolen lumber for Trail Mix

Nonprofit optimistic about chances of getting Treadwell Ditch Trail construction back on schedule

Two weekends ago, someone stole a hefty amount of wood from Trail Mix, Inc., a nonprofit that maintains hiking trails around Juneau.

Even though the lumber has not been returned, the organization could get back on track soon thanks to a donation from a local business: Amalga Distillery. The distillery wrote a check to Trail Mix to replace the lumber — about $1,200, Amalga co-owner Brandon Howard said in an interview Tuesday.

Howard said he was upset when he saw the news that the lumber had been stolen.

“It was something that was taken from Trail Mix, yes, but it was really something that was taken from the community,” Howard said.

The distillery opened in the summer of 2017, and Howard said he and co-owner Maura Selenak have been overwhelmed at the way the community has supported them. This, he said, is one way for them to give back to the people who have given so much to them.

Doug Scudder, the president of the Trail Mix board, said Tuesday that the organization is extremely grateful. The lumber that was stolen, Scudder explained in an earlier letter to the Empire, was going to be used to help build bridges on the Treadwell Ditch Trail on Douglas Island.

Scudder predicted in his letter that the theft would likely delay this construction to next summer. He explained in an interview Tuesday that the specific wood that was stolen will be used later in the construction project, but they didn’t want to start building the bridges and then leave them half-constructed through the winter.

With these funds coming so quickly, Scudder said, those in the organization are optimistic about completing construction of the bridges this summer.

“We’re hopeful that we can stay on schedule,” Scudder said.

He said it depends on how quickly Western Wood Products, which supplies lumber to states in the West, can get the lumber up to Juneau. Scudder said the company is usually pretty fast.

The distillery, Scudder explained, is located just next to Trail Mix’s headquarters on Franklin Street, and people from both organizations have gotten to know each other well during the past year or so. He said the distillery has had special nights where it donates a portion of its proceeds to Trail Mix.

Howard also said they’ve gotten to know the folks at Trail Mix, but the main reason for this donation is for Juneau’s residents and visitors who frequent the city’s vast array of trails.

“The big thing is definitely the fact that the work that they do is creating access for everybody in the community,” Howard said. “Not only that but for so many visitors, what brings them to Juneau is the natural beauty of it.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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