SITKA TRAIL WORKS PRESS RELEASE
Survey results show strong interest in trail system improvements
Following input from Sitkans about their priorities for types of trails to be expanded or maintained last spring, Sitka Trail Works published a detailed survey with over two dozen conceptual proposals on specific trail improvements or expansions.
This winter, hundreds of Sitkans carved out time to share their feedback. The results are in.
Compiling ideas from agencies, the public and past plans, Sitka Trail Works and the citizen advisory Trail Plan Committee identified projects that could meet community desires, from renovations of beloved existing trails to development of new routes. The initial list included conceptual plans for nine reconstructions, six new day hikes, four backpacking trail ideas, and nine short in-town trail connections.
After being reminded of the social, environmental, and economic goals of the planning process, Sitkans were asked to rate each proposal on a 0-100 scale based on the question, “How beneficial do you think this trail proposal would be for our community?” Respondents were also given the option to provide open-ended comments on each project.
567 Sitkans invested an average of 20 minutes to thoughtfully share their opinions of each proposal, and many left additional comments. In total, over 3,000 individual open-ended comments were collected. Most of the conceptual plans, 19 out of the 25 proposals, received highly favorable responses, with median scores above 70, out of 100 possible. The concept of improving walking and biking on Halibut Point Road received the overall highest score. Recreation enhancements to the Starrigavan Valley, including hiking trails to the ridge, ranked second, with strong consensus. The top nine ranked proposals are all projects on the road system, showing the desire for more accessible recreation opportunities, which was reiterated in many open-ended comments. Based on low community support, two proposals have been cut so far, the additional short-cut trails in the Russian Orthodox Cemetery and renovation of the Old Harbor Mountain Road as a connector trail.
Cabins were also ranked, and Sitkans again showed an interest in road-system based opportunities. The top scoring location for a new cabin was a drive-up destination on the top of Harbor Mountain. Starrigavan Ridge was the second highest ranked cabin location. In a tie for third place were Verstovia, Sea Lion Cove, and the Goddard mainland.
The next step is to assemble a final project list for inclusion in the Trail Plan. In making final project selections, the Trail Plan Committee will evaluate public comments along with agency input, feasibility constraints, and sustainability considerations. The Trail Plan will strike a balance of setting an ambitious vision for the future of our trail system, while also realistically working within the constraints of our shared resources. Trail projects can take years to advance through design, permitting, and construction, so it would not be feasible to attempt all the draft concepts, even with a twenty-year planning horizon.
The goals of this planning process are to:
- Make it easier and more inviting to be active and healthy outside;
- Be good stewards of our spectacular cultural and natural landscape;
- Help build a stronger, more durable local economy;
- Provide diverse, equitable access to the outdoors;
- Work within our means and by working together, increase our means!
For more information, please contact:
Sitka Trail Works, Inc