The U.S. Forest Service is planning to modify the 1996 management plan for the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area (MGRA) specific to visitor use capacity and commercial use. This analysis excludes the Dredge Lakes Unit. (A separate Dredge Lakes Unit Management plan will be prepared in the future). There is a need to revisit capacity and commercial use in the Recreation Area because significant change has occurred since 1996.
First, the visitor season in Alaska has expanded so that it now extends from May 1 through the end of September. The season was previously identified as May 15 through September 15.
A second reason for revisiting capacity and commercial use in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is simply the volume of visitors. Since 1999, visitation to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center alone has more than doubled, from 200,000 visitors to more than 400,000 each year.
Finally, increasing commercial allocation can provide expanded opportunities for local businesses and a better experience for visitors while maintaining the qualities identified as important in the 1996 plan.