The borough purchased the Nahku Bay beach property from the Bud Matthews estate in 2016. PHOTO BY JEFF BRADY

Borough Assembly members received a management plan from the Nahku Bay Property Oversight Ad Hoc Committee on Feb. 2, which provides a recommended path forward in handling that land.

The recommendations encompass the beach area only, with a promise to provide a second document intended to cover the area north of Dyea Road.

First on the list of the committee’s recommendations is a name change to the Matthews Creek Conservation Area, after the property’s former owner, Bud Matthews.

Also suggested is that no restrooms or garbage cans be installed within the first year. Instead, the committee’s report recommends having maintenance crews stop by the beach area during the summertime on a regular basis and take note of whether or not trash is an issue. If it is, the report states waste cans and bathroom facilities could be added in the future.

Michael Yee, chair of the Nahku Bay committee, said the area has never had any garbage cans or restrooms, that guests were always simply respectful to the owner.

“Our idea is to try to keep it as much as possible the way it is,” Yee said.

Signs were discussed in the plan as well, with the recommendation that minimal signage be placed at the beach for the first year, something along the lines of small, wooden signs inscribed with things such as “No camping, tree cutting, motorized vehicles,” or “Please keep this wild space clean.”

Suggested allowed uses of the property include a long list of non-commercial recreational activities, including walking, skiing, boating, kayaking, picnicking, beachcombing and many others.

If users obtain a permit, the property could be used for research related to history and biological resources, low-impact special events and for public safety training, such as cold water rescue and kayak safety.

The plan states that commercial activities are prohibited in the area, with two exceptions: low-impact sustainable harvesting of plants, driftwood and seaweed, and for holding cold water rescue and kayak safety training.  Both of these activities would require a permit.

“It is the municipality of Skagway’s intent to preserve the historic and traditional uses, intrinsic values and the spirit of Bud Matthews and his land, while maintaining minimal change of the Matthews Creek Conservation Area and to be a responsible steward in the protection of its resources in perpetuity,” part of the management plan states.

Eventually the committee would like to see additional signage placed, to include the Tlingit place name of Na’xk’w with historical information, as well as a homage to Matthews.
As part of the draft plan, the committee recommended several next steps that the assembly could take, including having the borough clerk draft a resolution officially renaming the property, direct staff to install signage on the beach and directing the clerk to draft an ordinance adding the beach management plan to the city code.

The assembly approved a motion 4-0 to direct staff to take the considerations and recommendations of the committee and create an ordinance for the assembly’s consideration.