Battery Point trail grant may double widening
A $15,000 state grant matched by the same amount from the Haines Borough could double the length of trail improvements that have been years in the making at Battery Point.
The upcoming work would extend improvements to about a halfway point on the mile-long trail from the south end of Beach Road extension to a section of beach north of Battery Point.
“It’s been a slow-going project because we’ve done it with grants, and when time allows we work on it, instead of having a crew specifically dedicated to the trail work,” said park ranger Preston Kroes, who recently resigned his position for a job in Kodiak.
Kroes said the work either would be done by two or three Alaska Conservation Corps workers the local office is trying to hire this season, or by a contractor. “A (contract) is an option we could pursue. It wouldn’t cost the office time if we hire a contractor.”
The conservation corps jobs pay $14 an hour and applications are available at the parks office in the Gateway Building on Main Street. The jobs are full-time, seasonal. A trail crew from Southeast Alaska Guidance Association also will work on the project for a week or two, he said.
The goal of the project is creating a smooth, four-foot-wide gravel path to the beach, a job that’s complicated by uneven terrain and crossings of streams, bogs and sections where wear has exposed a labyrinth of tree roots.
“The three kinds of people who use that trail are older people, young people with children and runners, and they all need relatively smooth ground,” said longtime hiker Paul Swift. “I’ve met people off the cruise ships out there and they all say, ‘It’s a beautiful trail and a great hike, but it’s so rooty.’”
Because of its use by commercial tours, funding for improvements on the trail should come from cruise ship head tax money or borough tourism funds, Swift said. The hillside trail was established decades ago, but other than the quarter mile of smoothed and widened sections, has seen only sporadic improvements, despite heavy foot traffic.
Kroes said the trail money will be spent only on trails and that at least two-thirds will likely go to labor. Equipment that might be purchased includes gloves and safety gear.
Other work on trails will include posting signs and cutting brush on Mount Riley and Seduction Point trails.
In other Division of Parks news, it appears construction work on improvements to the Chilkoot River will wait until 2015. Southeast parks superintendent Mike Eberhardt said the state is still working on final engineering drawings of pedestrian “pods” that will be built there. Permitting must also be done before construction, Eberhardt said. “It looks like it will be another year before construction,” he said.