SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Cherished Beaches Threatened
By Ardath Piston


November 17, 2006

Coast Guard Beach and South Point Higgins Beach (aka Driftwood Beach) are beloved places for Ketchikan residents; they are extremely unique and important to the community as they are basically the last non-developed beachfront in the area. Located near North Point Higgins Elementary School, the Coast Guard beach has long been used as an outdoor classroom for elementary students, the Boy Scouts, the yearly "Toughies" campout and survival training, and Schoenbar Environmental Education classes. Both beaches are used for beachcombing, walking dogs, family camping, hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, collection of edible and medicinal plants, clam digging, and kayaking. The Beaches have historical value for the Ketchikan community, as many residents have intergeneration family memories of enjoying the public space.

What many community members don't know is that Coast Guard Beach and South Point Higgins beaches are not public land and are currently threatened by development. The Alaska Mental Health Land trust (MHLT) owns the land. MHLT is seeking rezoning of the land through the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. The lands are currently zoned Public Lands and Institute (PLI), but MHLT is pursuing "zoning classification of the Parcel that provides the greatest degree of flexibility in order to create a master plan development that includes a range of lot sizes and housing unit densities".

Concerned community members are meeting on December 3 to discuss strategies to keep the land for future community access and use. For more information feel free to contact me. We welcome all community members to participate.


Ardath Piston
Ketchikan, AK

Received November 17, 2006 - Published November 17, 2006

About: "15 year Ketchikan resident, business owner, daily user of Coast Guard Beach, and concerned citizen."



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