Stakeholders will gather at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to sign the Sitka Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Action Plan. (Editor’s note: Here is a link to a KCAW-Raven Radio story about Tuesday’s signing ceremony).
This plan has been in the works for about two years, though it hit a bump in the road about a year ago. The steering committee featured a variety of stakeholders — the Tongass National Forest Sitka Ranger District, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, City and Borough of Sitka, Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Trail Works Inc., Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). In addition to the major agencies, there also were local outdoor-oriented businesses and individuals on the committee, and there was extensive public comment as the plan was developed.
“The real accomplishment of this plan is how many entities worked together to create it,” said Andrew Thoms, Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society. “It included input from citizens, local businesses, NGOs, and state and federal agencies. This plan will be an important tool for everyone working together to make community investments in tourism and recreation so that we have a community that is a great place for Sitkans to live in and a great place for tourists to visit.”
The plan provides two main products — an ambitious and comprehensive set of outdoor recreation projects, and a list of community priorities. By agreeing to continue to work together, these parties are expanding the community’s capability to be a better place to live, visit, work and play, the signing ceremony flier said.
“Without the help of community members, this plan would not have been possible,” said Carol Goularte, District Ranger, Sitka Ranger District, R10 Tongass National Forest, who helped coordinate the planning process. “It is a dynamic plan of important ideas that will be flushed out by landowners and stakeholders based on what is sustainable over time. Adding a new trail or facility is always a benefit. However, the big question is maintaining what we have and what will we give up if we add something new?”
For some of the history of the process, go to http://www.outdoorsitka.com/, a site maintained by contracted facilitators Agnew::Beck Consulting. A final draft of the plan (minus signatures) is posted below as a PDF document.