Visitor Center director to speak on changes at Mendenhall Glacier

Release Date: Mar 31, 2014   Juneau, AK

Contact(s): John Neary

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center director John Neary will present a special lecture at 7pm on Wednesday, April 2 at the center that will focus on the challenges of adapting to a changing glacier. It is titled, “Changes Coming to Your Backyard Glacier … and Those Who Depend on It.”

“We are a successful destination with over 440,000 visitors,” Director John Neary said, “and we want to make the most of our popularity while holding onto what we do best.”

As forest and lake surface expand into previously glaciated terrain, salmon, bears, Arctic Terns and other wildlife play a greater role in enticing people to the recreation area. Elevated viewing platforms provide an increasingly attractive site to see wildlife along Steep Creek. Trained staff and volunteers ensure safety during busy summer months “but crowds sometimes overwhelm us” says Neary. ”Not only do we need to upgrade our facilities to resolve traffic congestion and inadequate restrooms, but the flow of visitors needs to be dramatically improved. Perhaps most importantly, we are missing opportunities to deliver our critical message, that climate change is happening and we need to do something”. Neary will discuss these and other thoughts on Wednesday evening.

Prior to being named visitor center director, John Neary served with the US Forest Service as Wilderness Manager and Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area planner. John has been the glacier staff’s primary trainer for many years in all aspects of bear/human interactions.

Neary was a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda in 1990 and has subsequently worked for the US Forest Service International Program on temporary assignments to eight African countries. His expertise is in the management of wildlife viewing. Neary enjoys the many new challenges of managing the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center where he has been director since March, 2013.

The April 2 lecture is a special presentation of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. There is no charge and the talk is open to the public. Doors open at 6:30pm.

The visitor center will be closed for the month of April to prepare for summer activities, except for this presentation and one other community activity, a celebration of Earth Day on Saturday, April 19 from 11am until 3pm.

The visitor center will reopen Thursday, May 1 with daily summer operating hours of 8am till 7:30pm. A $3 charge applies to adults and children 16 years and older. Federal recreation passes may be used as well.

For more information call 789-0097.