A few years ago, a lot on the water side of North Douglas Highway was overgrown and mostly forgotten, and became a spot for abandoned cars and drug use.
On Saturday, that lot was full of children, kites and cookies. The property, about 2.7 miles north of the roundabout, is now the Marjory and Edgar Huizer Fishing Access Site, allowing anglers and hunters to access the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge easily from Douglas Island.
Allison Gillum, executive director of Southeast Alaska Land Trust — which bought and renovated the property — said the area is night and day from how it used to be.
“We cleaned up a lot of needles and things here when we first got the property,” Gillum said.
Marjory and Edgar Huizer were longtime conservation advocates in Juneau who were passionate about improving recreational opportunities in the borough. The Huizers were also donors to SEAL Trust, Gillum said. Marjory died in 2001, and Ed died in 2015.
Doug Larsen, the president of Territorial Sportsmen, spoke a little about the Huizers at Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the access site. He said Edgar, who went by Ed, worked at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for a long time and finished his career there as the deputy commissioner.
“He was a true gentleman,” Larsen said. “For those of you who knew Ed, he was a true gentleman, a real outdoor enthusiast and really cared a lot about his community, his state and recreational opportunities.”
The fishing access site came together over the past seven years, Gillum said, and there was help from ADF&G, Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) and Territorial Sportsmen along with SEAL Trust board members and donors. Gillum said the job of stabilizing the steep hillside and putting in the stairs down to the wetlands proved to be more difficult and expensive (about $115,000) than initially thought.
Dan Teske, Juneau area sport fish management biologist for ADF&G, said during the ceremony that the setup looks even better than he imagined.
SEAL Trust is still accepting donations, as a sheet at Saturday’s ceremony stated that the nonprofit is more than $9,000 into a fundraising effort with the goal of raising $26,000 to help with costs. People can go to southeastalaskalandtrust.org to donate.
Katie Harms, tourism and education manager at DIPAC, said during the ceremony that she’s excited for fishing season this year, especially now that this fishing access area is open.
“We’re so excited to see people fishing right from our deck,” Harms said. “We have a set of binoculars on our viewing deck, so we can see people fishing right from our hatchery.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.