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Sitka rec plan aims to boost tourism, benefit locals

Click the image to link to the plan.

An assortment of community groups and government agencies signed a deal Tuesday mapping out new ways to develop outdoor recreation in Sitka.

The Sitka Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Action Plan is a 32-page wish list of ideas to develop the community’s recreational infrastructure.

Some of the ideas are simple, like developing a list of “must-do” Sitka activities that can be handed out to residents and visitors. Other ideas are more complicated, like a proposed sea walk stretching from O’Connell Bridge to the Sitka National Historical Park.

The plan calls for mountain bike trails, marine recreation maps, diving opportunities, and better access to back country terrain.

Carol Goularte is the Sitka District ranger for the Tongass National Forest. She says the plan is the culmination of a long planning process, but also the beginning of a lot of work.

“It’s going to take money, it’s going to take time, and some of these ideas may not even be possible,” Goularte said. “But the idea is what’s important to carry forward to see if we can meet the idea in another way.”

As an example, Goularte cited an idea from a focus group made up of older users. The plan refers to them as “vintage.” They asked for a step trail to provide better access to Sandy Beach.

“That’s probably not possible, because of the winter storms. The steps would probably not stay there,” she said. “So we’re going to look at other ways to get the vintage people to the beach.”

The plan caters to residents, but also to visitors, with the hope of attracting independent travelers to Sitka. The community has seen a steep drop-off in cruise ship visitors, and is seeking new ways to bolster tourism.

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