MGT Feb 15, 2012, Meeting summary

posted Mar 19, 2012, 3:02 AM by Dot Helm   [ updated Mar 19, 2012, 3:05 AM ]
Next meeting is March 21, 2012, Wed 5:30pm at Matanuska Experiment Farm, upstairs lab.

Thanks so much to everyone who attended Wed night's meeting. We had about 20 people spread across an assortment of agencies and organizations as well as trail users. We'd also like to report that we haven't taken all the fun out of the area with the signs - people can still get lost. :)  It's just a little more challenging. However, the signs do seem to be taking some of the fear-factor out of using the system, and we do seem to have more users (no data, unfortunately).

1. Landfill. Cathy Mayer, the new Landfill manager, discussed proposed plans for the landfill. She wants to leave a little more buffer between the landfill and homes, so our present CMT trailheads are likely safe for another few years. Expect to see some changes to the Landfill Loop since it is too close to the active landfill - safety issues, including people entering the landfill. She is looking into the possibility of using woody plants rather than just grasses for the revegetation, including contacting Greg to find the information. All plans are subject to change.

And keep in mind that recycling and composting materials will reduce input to the landfill, which will slow its expansion.

It looks like a new trailhead will be built on top the present sled hill by removing part of the hill. There appears to be funds to put a new outhouse at the new location. There's supposed to be a 2-3% sloped trail leading down to the east edge of CMT, which would provide access to our trails. Keep in mind that all this has to survive the budget process.

2. Sandra Garley, the City of Palmer's Community Development Director, spoke about their new trails plan. She discussed some of their priorities in terms of getting trails and parks near the Brittany Estates area, the quadrant of Palmer that's separated by the highways from the rest of the city. Also getting a safe route for kids to get down Bailey hill into town. Kids may need to use the library or ice facility and have to get there under their own power. No resolution to the France Rd issue appears near.

Possibilities for connecting the city to MGT could occur at CMT or down near the State Park where the Glenn Hwy expansion may result in a bike path into the park.

3. Bonnie Quill, of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau, talked about plans for the new South Gateway Visitor Center. Their preferred site is the Homestead RV park for the WOW factor. However, MEA has purchased the entire 50 acres for right of way from Eklutna power plant. MEA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work with MSCVB on developing the new visitor center.

4. Chris Kepler of Kepler Park spoke about the significant impacts of the Glenn Highway expansion on their operation. State parks installed a trailhead structure for Kepler Park, but still needs to install the posters in it. He also mentioned that some people are still getting lost and getting to Kepler Park and not the Matanuska Lake Trailhead. What we *think* is happening is that many people haven't keyed in on the name change in the state park. Hopefully, some of this will be resolved when all the trailhead posters get up.

I just revisited some of the signs on the Kepler Connector and will look into whether there's something there that could be improved. As with all signs, some assumptions were made regarding potential destinations at those intersections.

In the meantime, remind people that when they park at the main parking area of Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area, to get back to that follow the signs that say "Matanuska Lake Trailhead". If you follow the signs to Kepler Park,  you will end up in the private Kepler Park. (Some people may be thinking that Kepler is a shortened version of Kepler-Bradley, which trail users have used in the past, but Kepler Park is the private park most visible from the Glenn Hwy.)

Bonnie made the suggestion of Q R cards to provide people with maps and other information. We will definitely look into doing this, esp. since it follows some of our progression with online maps.

5. Fran Seager-Boss, MSB Planning, spoke briefly about the National Heritage Area, which we've been participating in.

6. Mark Gronewald, MSB Trails Program Coordinator, indicated he'd been working on some thoughts for trail-building policies.

7. Roger Gossett of Job Corps talked a little about the types of small projects (one day) his Leadership program can sometimes fit in. Our trailhead structures are being built by their Carpentry students. This gives them training in reading design specs, measuring dimensions on a model structure, and constructing something that gets used. This gets to be a little more exciting for them than routine classroom exercises.

8. Sara Wilson Doyle of USKH made the suggestion of identifying features that we might want to attract people to on trails and other features, like wetlands, where we would want to steer trails away from there.

This is just the highlights of what was discussed, and I hope I've accurately summarized the items.

Just some broad syntheses of thoughts over the past few meetings (formal and with consultants): I think I'm seeing a multi-part trails plan:
1. Trails nuts and bolts - trail design (width, clearing, hardening, technical features, etc found in Trail Management Objectives)
2. Natural and cultural history. Unique geology and agricultural history - the things that make this trail system unique.

Natural and cultural history will have a strong educational aspect - students from UAF, UAA (MSC), Valley Pathways, home school - either formally or through geo/earthcache or self-guided tours / walk abouts / nature trails (electronically implemented). But these may also be features to attract trails.

Trails will also have an outreach aspect - educate people about proper trail use.

Hope to see you all at our next meeting on March 21.