Michele Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, speaks to about 15 residents who attended a public meeting discussing the final version of the Montana Creek master plan at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Michele Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, speaks to about 15 residents who attended a public meeting discussing the final version of the Montana Creek master plan at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The Montana Creek master plan is finalized — now what?

Management officials emphasize openness to future ideas not included in plan.

After years of reiterations and public input, a 10-year master plan for a popular Mendenhall Valley recreation area is finally complete — sort of.

Residents were invited to a public meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss an existing question that might remain following the finalization of the Montana Creek master plan released by the City and Borough of Juneau this May after being in the works since early 2021.

A residents grabs a print of the final Montana Creek master plan at a public meeting at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A residents grabs a print of the final Montana Creek master plan at a public meeting at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Attending the meeting were officials with the project’s planning committee including members of CBJ Parks and Recreation, United States Forest Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Transportation and Trail Mix Inc. staff, all of which contribute to the management of the area.

Michele Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, said though the master plan is technically “final,” it does not mean new ideas for the area can’t be pitched outside of it in the future.

“Master plans don’t dictate what’s ‘yes’ and what’s ‘no’ — it’s really a community process and visionary process,” she said. “Just because it’s not there doesn’t mean it can’t happen — a lot of things can still happen.”

The final plan includes more than 10 priorities including:

— Reconstruct existing trails from Montana Creek Road to Windfall Lake Access Road/Herbert River Road (mid-term priority).

— Construct a new Mendenhall Glacier Area Access Trail to connect to Montana Creek Rd. (short-term priority).

— Construct University- Auke Lake – Auke Bay Elementary – Spaulding Meadows community connector trail (short-term priority).

— Construct new Montana Creek Road to Lake Creek/Spaulding Meadows connector trail (long-term priority).

—​​ Construct a new Auke Nu – Spaulding Meadows – Lake Creek connector loop trail (long-term priority).

— Construct a new John Muir Cabin to Peterson Lake Cabin connector trail (long-term priority).

— Construct a new Peterson Lake Trail to a new cabin to the Montana Creek Trail connector (mid-term priority).

— Construct a trail extending from 25 Mile Road to connect to the new cabin (long-term priority).

— Extending Lake Creek Road (long-term priority).

— Extending 25 Mile Road (long-term priority).

Elfers said the next steps include coordinating among the four agencies to request funding for cabin and access trails, along with collaborating on signage, education and enforcement. She said having a “finalized plan” is a crucial step to obtaining grant funding as it shows a willingness to collaborate between agencies and a commitment to growth in the area.

“I think there’s a lot more work to do, as we all know, because when you create a plan you create more work,” she said.

Other more immediate changes residents can look forward to include a temporary replacement bridge for the Montana Creek Bridge, which is expected to be in place by June 15.

Pete Schneider, a U.S. Forest Service natural resource specialist agreed, said he encourages residents to continue to remain active both in projects included in the final master plan, and projects that didn’t make it but could still be accomplished in the future.

“Just because it’s not on the map doesn’t mean that it’s not something that we can’t consider,” he said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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