Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Facility Improvements

The Tongass National Forest Supervisor Francis Sherman signed the final Record of Decision for the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Facility Improvements Project on December 13, 2023.

The Record of Decision is available below and contains a full description of the decision.

The final decision was influenced by the objection process and is different than the draft Record of Decision published in May 2023. Notably, the final decision is responsive to concerns expressed during the planning process regarding infrastructure development on the lakeshore, motorized boat operations on Mendenhall Lake, and the Remote Glacier Visitor Area. The Record of Decision approves:
-new facilities and facility improvements, including parking lots and access expansion;
-construction of a new welcome center at the site of the existing commercial overflow parking lot;
-construction of visitor plazas;
-improvements to the historic Visitor Center;
-Steep Creek habitat restoration;
-construction, improvement, or designation of the Lakeshore, Nugget Falls, Steep Creek, and West Glacier Spur trails and the Dredge Lake and West Glacier unit multi-use trails; and
-construction of Glacier Spur Road trailheads; and construction of public use cabins.

In addition to those specific facility improvements, the decision also includes installation of culverts or other required drainage structures, grading, removal of outdated infrastructure and materials, vegetation management to preserve views, revegetation, and other maintenance of facilities and trails.

The decision approves management actions including changes to visitor capacity and commercial use management, management unit boundaries, forest orders, and the interpretive plan.

Finally, the decision includes an implementation process, including application of the Programmatic Agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office, the Integrated Resource Design and Implementation Plan, and the Adaptive Management Plan.

The decision does not allow for development of boat docks and related support facilities, motorized boat use on the lake, or a remote glacier visitor area. The existing non-motorized boat launch areas north of the Welcome Center Complex and near Skater?s Cabin will remain. No development will occur on the north side of the lake except for the West Glacier Trail and the West Glacier Spur Trail. The decision does not make any changes to travel management or motor vehicle use maps, and does not allow for electric bike (e-bike) use on non-motorized trails in the MGRA, including the new Lakeshore Trail.

Location Summary

Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is located 12 miles from downtown Juneau, in Mendenhall Valley.

District: Juneau Ranger District

Project Milestones

MilestoneDate
NOI in Federal Register12/16/2020
DEIS NOA in Federal Register03/04/2022
FEIS NOA in Federal Register05/12/2023
Objection Period Start05/13/2023
Decision12/13/2023
Implementation12/01/2023 (Estimated)

Project Documents

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53780