MGT Nov 13, 2013, Meeting Summary

posted Nov 15, 2013, 1:43 AM by Dot Helm
Thanks to everyone who came Wed night. We had a good turnout of 16 people, including the administrators from all the active managers. Some of this summary will be from my notes, and may not be what was actually said (I wasn't very coordinated)

We reviewed a little of the history of the group starting with the brown bag lunch on Dec 3, 2008, at the Matanuska Experiment Farm and recognizing two main concepts that came out: respecting the different land owners and their missions as well as the numerous non-motorized users in the area. If it moves without a motor, we probably have it in this trail system. Traditionally, this has been one of the more diverse areas for users.

The area is loved not just for the trails, but for the glacial landforms, wildlife, and history including the almost 100-yr old Matanuska Experiment Farm and part of the Machetanz properties. Combined with the presence of two university satellite campuses and nearby schools, it's an incredible resource for trails and outdoor education.

What did the group decide to try to see how everyone could work together: signs and maps, primarily for safety and secondly to enhance the users' experience in the area. (some people don't like the adventure of getting lost in a maze)

We started with 14, hoping for 20, posts, mostly connecting CMT with what became the Mat Lake trailhead. Now we have almost 100 posts with almost 300 signs. Details are included here: It's important to note that 53 individuals or groups donated at least $100 apiece to support the trails. The entire system of non-social trails is mostly signed at this point.

Two people deserve special recognition in getting the MGT to where it is:
1. Farm Administrator Norm Harris who provided the basic GIS information to get us started on the map and had the software to read the logo developed by the State Parks people and draft the first trail signs. Neither the maps nor the signs would have gotten far without that support.

2. Trail guru Mark Gronewald who has volunteered as well as worked for Mat-Su Borough and State Parks for building trails and also for installing many of the posts. Without Mark's support, we'd probably still be trying to install posts and have fewer trails.

Norm Harris, Farm administrator, talked about the history of the Matanuska Experiment Farm, which was established in 1917 to provide some of the research that helped with the Matanuska Colony. He reminded us that the Farm is an active research unit, and the fields and equipment need to be respected. We were also happy to have Patrick Kelly, Regional Resource Manager for UA Lands present.

Wayne Biessel, Mat Lakes SRA administrator, talked about history of MLSRA and its acquisition from private parcels. It's operated by a contractor in a package deal with another park. That contract is up for renewal in December. State Parks doesn't really have any money for trail work there, but if their Hatcher Pass crew gets snowed out, they'll frequently send them to Mat Lakes.

Hugh Leslie, MSB Recreation and Library Services Manager, and Mark Gronewald, MSB Trails Program Coordinator, talked about MSB activity in Crevasse-Moraine and Greenbelt Central, where the new Bear Trails were finished this year. This also included the CMT master plan and possible expansion into the France Rd area, when the lease issue with Palmer is cleared up. We were also happy to have Matthew Beck, our District 2 Assembly person, present.

Most importantly, we had 4 very enthusiastic teachers from Machetanz Elementary School interested in using MGT for place-based learning. Machetanz is a STEM school - science, technology, engineering, math. They've been through iTREC - Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom, which is explained here briefly:
We connected them with ADF&G outreach, retired soil scientist, MSB cultural resources (already know her), and forester for more information.

One thing that's been talked about for a long time is our students go into Eagle River Nature Center or Campbell Creek Science Center to learn about natural and cultural history. Our teachers go in there to teach. Why shouldn't they be taking advantage of resources here. So we're really hoping that the education component of the Greenbelt takes off like the trails have.

Justin Saunders of MSCVB was also there and talked briefly about the new Gateway Visitor Center that will be in the old Homestead RV site.

It will be at least a couple weeks before I can finalize the map to put it online. A few little things yet to do on it plus lots of other things happening right now. At that time or soon after, I'll update trail miles and numbers of posts and signs.

Next meeting will be primarily for land managers to discuss special events / races to get some consistency among them. It will be Jan 8, 1pm, at the Matanuska Experiment Farm. We haven't decided on next meeting after that.

BTW, if you want to share trail conditions with others, please post on our FB page:

Enjoy the trails!