At the heart of GLT’s mission is the identification of lands that merit conservation because of their ecological and community value. For each parcel of land and water on our list, GIS mapping enables us to quantify a spectrum of assets: Andover Drive Wetlands is home to moose; the watershed of Little Campbell Creek is important to Southcentral Alaska’s drinking water supply. Stream corridors like Fish Creek support salmon spawning and parcels such as Near Point offer access to public spaces like Chugach State Park. Next, GLT applies a complex set of tools to place both local and global dollar values on such lands and waters and to offer a holistic assessment of the community’s future needs in relation to these lands. From there, we work in voluntary partnership with private landowners, agencies, and partners to ensure the conservation of lands and waterways critical to the quality of life for Southcentral Alaskans – today and in the future. Through partnerships and GIS prioritizations, Great Land Trust conserves the highest priority lands and waters.
USING GIS AS A TOOL FOR CONSERVATION
GLT uses geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools to identify and prioritize land parcels that have significant community and ecological values. Depending on the focus of the prioritization, parcels are given a score based on the number of conservation values the lands provide. These conservation values or community assets include important moose habitat, wetlands that filter drinking water supplies, streams that provide salmon spawning and rearing, and parcels adjacent to or within protected areas that enhance public access. Using tools like these ensures that GLT is working strategically and conserving the very best and most important lands and waters in the region.
In 1999, we completed our first prioritization to assess wildlife corridors and open spaces in the Municipality of Anchorage, which was included in the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. This effort led to the conservation of lands important to the Anchorage community with high conservation value such as the Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area and Fish Creek Estuary. We have completed over a dozen conservation prioritizations for each of the regions in our service area to ensure we are being strategic with our conservation efforts and working to protect the lands that have the highest ecological and conservation value.
SUBSISTENCE & CULTURE
In Southcentral, the largest private landowners are the Regional Native and Village Corporations, established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. Much of the lands they own include spectacular habitat for fish, wildlife and migratory birds, important wetlands, and lands that provide iconic views surrounding cities and towns. As corporations fulfill their mission to generate revenue for their Shareholders, they are also interested in protecting the lands used by shareholders for cultural and traditional use.Using our GIS mapping resources we have worked with a number of Regional and Village Corporations to assess their land holdings for conservation value. We made recommendations to their boards about the conservation options GLT has available to purchase the development rights on these lands. Some of the projects we have done with Native Corporations include our Knik River Islands Conservation Easement and the Eklutna River Estuary Conservation Easement. With both of these projects Great Land Trust holds a conservation easement that permanently limits future development and subdivision of these lands and the Corporation retains ownership and the ability for Tribal members and Shareholders to use the lands for traditional and cultural uses like hunting, fishing and berry picking.These conservation transactions offered a major win for both GLT and the corporation. GLT was able to conserve significant high value habitat and the corporation was able to make money selling their development rights. We look forward to working with other corporations and tribes in the future. Contact Dave Mitchell for more info at email@example.com
MAPPING COMMUNITY ASSETS
Whether it’s hiking, biking, fishing or hunting, having close to home outdoor places to play is the reason many people live here. Through our Mapping Community Assets initiative, GLT is working with community councils, cities, and/or neighborhood groups to identify the land types important for maintaining the Alaskan way of life. This includes reviewing maps over a series of meetings and talking about where the parks and trails, salmon streams, moose habitat, wetlands and important open spaces are within a specific area. This process allows GLT to talk with residents about the special lands within their community that support the well-being of residents and discuss the conservation options available to protect these vital assets.
This project offers the community an opportunity to tell us where they think we should concentrate our conservation efforts and helps communities think about where the less sensitive lands are that could be open for development including roads, utilities, public facilities, residential subdivisions, businesses and/or commercial areas.
Ever wonder if your community or neighborhood contains any critical salmon spawning or rearing habitat? Or if there are any significant wetlands important to breeding and nesting migratory birds close to your home? Maybe you know of an area you would like to see developed into a new park. GLT would be happy to share the asset maps we have on file for your area and talk with you and your neighbors about the special places within your community. Contact Kim for more info or to schedule a presentation at firstname.lastname@example.org