In Southcentral, outdoor recreation is a part of our lifestyle. One of Great Land Trust’s focus areas is enhancing appropriate access to local public lands for everyone. We work to connect individual neighborhoods to public open space in urban areas throughout Anchorage and the Mat-Su, and we are helping to identify areas for new connector trails to public lands and lands that could become new community parks.
In Alaska, it can be hard to tell where private lands end and public lands begin. Great Land Trust works with partners, private and public landowners to ensure access to our favorite trail hikes and coastline beaches, fishing holes, hunting and berry picking spots. Great Land Trust works with landowners, agencies and communities to ensure permanent access to our public lands.
While Alaska is blessed with an abundance of public land, access to that land is not guaranteed. Chugach State Park, the third largest state park in America, is located at the edge of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.
Our “Pathways to the Chugach: Connecting to our Park” program is an initiative focused on identifying and creating new opportunities to explore and enjoy Chugach State Park. As the Municipality of Anchorage has grown, so has development along the border of Chugach State Park, making it difficult to find close to home access for residents and visitors. GLT has been working with the Alaska State Parks and community groups to identify areas from Eagle River to Potter Marsh that could provide residents with new trail head access points to the Park. This project is also helping to solve some sticky trespass problems, protecting critical wildlife corridors, and preserving the viewshed along the park boundary.
Near Point Access
Along the western boundary of the park, immediately adjacent to suburban Anchorage, lies the nearly 150-acre Near Point property. The property provides access to Near Point and to the North Fork of Campbell Creek. With our partner The Conservation Fund, we raised funds to buy this private property and add it to Chugach State Park.
No matter how tough the situation, we find the right solution to benefit the land and the surrounding community. In 2003 the Near Point property was the location of a proposed antenna farm. After the community defeated that proposal, it was slated for residential development. The Basher Community Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the purchase of the entire property and our transfer of the property to Chugach State Park.
Rabbit LAKE ACCESS
In 2007, in partnership with the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, we completed a multi-year effort to secure public access to Rabbit Creek Valley, located within the park. Over the course of five years we worked quietly with various landowners to secure access to the valley. In partnership with The Conservation Fund, Alaska State Parks, the Alaska Legislature, the Rasmuson Foundation and ConocoPhillips, we raised the money needed to purchase three properties totaling 320 acres, allowing park visitors to enjoy Rabbit Creek Valley for the first time in 20 years.
palmer hay flats State Game Refuge
This is a three phase project: acquisition, trail development and interpretive signage, and stewardship. We raised $1.5 million to purchase nearly 1,000 acres of private land – making the largest private inholding within the Refuge open to the public in 2014. Next with generous donors, we raised money to build a wetland boardwalk almost a mile out into the Refuge from two different trailheads, providing stunning and never before seen views and access to fishing and wildlife watching spots.
new city and borough parks & trails
The Campbell Creek Estuary project began in 2010 when we were able to purchase a historic homestead and donate it to the Municipality of Anchorage as a Natural Area Park. We now hold a conservation easement over the entire parcel, which ensures permanent public access to this beautiful, 60-acre coastal open space. Thanks to more than $7.4 million in fundraising dollars and countless volunteer hours, Campbell Creek Estuary is home to trails and viewing platforms offering stunning views of the estuary and Turnagain Arm.
The 1.5 mile Bodenburg Butte trail is the most popular hike in the Mat-Su Valley, loved by locals and visitors alike. From it’s unique granite summit, hikers take in breathtaking, 360-degree views of Knik Glacier, Pioneer Peak and local valley farmland. In 2014, GLT launched a successful campaign to “Buy the top of the Butte,” and make the summit public. We donated the land to the Mat-Su Borough in 2016, and hold a conservation easement to ensure it stays protected for the community to enjoy forever.