Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Spring grants build bridges

April 23, 2017

Four Valleys Community School summer students will have increased scholarship access again this summer thanks to a new KMTA grant.

From a new steel beam bridge across California Creek in Girdwood to a storytelling project between elders and youth in Seward, Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area awarded grants to connect people to places and their stories at the April 12 Board meeting. National Heritage Area grants are designed to promote local participation in communities discovering their stories.

Girdwood and surrounding Turnagain Arm communities proposed three local projects approved by the KMTA Board for the upcoming year. Girdwood’s Town Square interpretative signs will be fabricated and installed this summer, the Four Valleys Community School, serving families throughout Turnagain Arm, will again offer scholarships for their youth summer Adventure Camps, and the Girdwood Trails Committee will lead the replacement of the failing California Creek Bridge.

Further south in the Kenai Mountains corridor, projects for Portage, Cooper Landing, and Seward were awarded funding. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage is in the finishing stages to open a new indoor educational facility. The new Snug Harbor Pathway in Cooper Landing will see facilitated community design of an interpretation and user amenities plan. Seward students will have the opportunity to interview elders and share their stories by producing and publishing multimedia iBooks.

Community-driven partnerships

These six infrastructure and education projects serve KMTA missions of historic interpretation, education of the public, particularly youth, historic trail development, assistance to local interpretative centers, and community development. KMTA awarded up to $52,215 for the 2017 spring round of community grants, to be matched by at least $99,467 in support from volunteers donating their time, donations of building and educational materials, and matching funds.

KMTA will contribute $5,000 to help replace the damaged California Creek Bridge on the Lower Iditarod National Historic Trail. The new bridge will connect the old Girdwood Townsite to the new Girdwood Townsite, linking miles of trails that weave past beaver ponds and through dense forest on a route traveled by the Dena’ina people, miners and trappers, and current valley residents.

The Seward PTA will initiate an Elders Sharing project among Seward K-12 students, the Qutekcak Native Tribe, Seward Providence Mountain Haven, Seward Senior Center, Seward Boys & Girls Club, Jesse Lee Home alumni, and Seward individuals. Elder-student partners will compile photographs, videos, artifacts, and accounts to create interactive iBooks using iPads installed with the iBook Creator App. Finished iBooks will be published and freely available. Some will likely be shared on the KMTA website.

Renewed projects

The Girdwood Town Square signage project, Four Valleys Community School (FVCS) Adventure Camps, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s (AWCC) Bison Hall completion are all follow-up investments by KMTA to complete or renew outstanding projects. Girdwood residents, including students, contributed to the design of four interpretative signs in the Town Square Park exhibit. The signs will be fabricated and installed this summer. Last summer, with KMTA scholarship support, 50 youth participated in FVCS Intensives, as well as an additional 18 in Field Sports and 23 in their Olympic Games. This summer’s programs will include Intensives in “Girdwood Goldrush Days” and “Rivers & Hydrology”. AWCC plans to complete Bison Hall this year, providing an indoor and sheltered-outdoor facility for furless, non-hibernating humans to learn about resident animals and habitat.

New Planning and Design

The Cooper Landing Walkable Community Committee led the effort to secure Federal Highways funding for a 1.8-mile bike/pedestrian path along Snug Harbor Road, improving the safety of non-motorized access to the Cooper Landing Senior Center and public recreational trails. The next step in this recently completed construction project is an interpretation, beautification, and waste management plan with local guidance and landscape architectural expertise. Community workshops are planned for this summer to develop a final design that can then be used to place amenities like benches, signs, and garden beds where desired.

These projects are possible because of strong community involvement and the rich geological and cultural landscape of this coastal mountain corridor. Future grant opportunities can be found on the KMTA website.

Public welcome at April 12 board meeting

April 10, 2017

The spring board meeting for the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is open to the public. The Board will meet at the Anchor Inn in Whittier Wednesday, April 12, 1-4 p.m. The agenda includes grant applications review, nomination of a new Board member, and discussion of media and trail development plans. Please check tunnel times if you are driving from outside of Whittier.

Hope Highway Trail project getting off the ground

March 13, 2017

Cyclists on Resurrection Trail. Photo: Terri Semmler

Cyclists on Resurrection Trail. Photo: Terri Semmler

Once-hidden Hope is an increasingly popular destination for visitors in vehicles and on bicycles. Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA) is working with Hope Inc., the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Chugach National Forest, and the Alaska Department of Transportation to develop a non-motorized trail along the Highway.

Planning is taking place now to establish what type of trail would meet user needs, who would maintain the trail, how to support visitor facilities, and how construction would be funded for an approximately 18-mile trail. A non-motorized, multiuse trail along the Hope Highway trail would provide safer travel alternatives, promote active transportation and recreation along Turnagain Arm, connect popular, long-distance National Forest trails, and support economic development.

KMTA is preparing the trail in phases to expedite construction and meet community needs. The first phase is planned to be an approximately 2-mile section within the community of Hope, allowing off-road pedestrian and cyclist to travel between the Old Hope Road in historic downtown and Mile 15 at Mud Lake. This path has been Hope’s highest priority capital improvement project for the past two years to improve resident safety. The proposed route is accessible from Hope School. Local contractors have pledged time and materials to carry out the project. KMTA is investing trail funds to secure permitting and defray construction costs.

Federal Highways Administration funding will be sought for the complete trail connecting to the Seward Highway pull-out and existing paved trail along the Seward Highway. The route, construction phasing, and design will be determined through a process of community input and coordination with various area land managers. The Hope Highway Trail is a strong national candidate because of improved access to public lands, including a National Recreational Trail, scenic vistas of Turnagain Arm along a branch of the National Historic Iditarod Trail, safety improvements, and community support.

The proposed trail will provide alternate transportation, recreational destinations, and dedicated trailhead facilities along the route. Long-distance trail connectivity is expected to promote tourism with increased spending on lodging and food.

Public process is integral to successfully build, maintain, and use the trail. The 2005 Kenai Peninsula Borough Comprehensive Plan documents public support for expanding roadside local trails, including within the community of Hope. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed a resolution of support for KMTA to plan and develop the Hope Highway trail at the February 14, 2017 meeting. Hope Inc. wrote a letter of support in September 2016.

Further local input on trail design, route, and facilities, will be gathered at the Hope Inc. meeting on April 1 at 4 p.m. in the Hope Social Hall. Proposed trail maps and updates are available at Hope Highway Trail Project.

New community grants welcomed: April 1 deadline

February 13, 2017
A recent grant helped support the Yaghanen Youth Program. Here, a researcher records the landscape that upheld her ancestors with its ecological abundance as part of her archaeology field work. Credit: David Guilfoyle

A recent grant helped support the Yaghanen Youth Program archeology research project. Here, a researcher conducts an ecological survey. Credit: David Guilfoyle

Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA) is seeking grant applications for 2017 and 2018. Grants are meant to enable community groups to accomplish projects that strengthen heritage area identity and cultural resources at the grassroots. Past grants have supported a range of projects including support for local museums, book publications, school field trips, and trail volunteer initiatives.


Communities eligible for KMTA support include Indian, Bird, Girdwood, Portage, Whittier, Hope, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass, and Seward. Applications are due April 1st. Application forms are available online via the “Grants” link at the website.


Projects must include at least an equal commitment of resources, whether financial or in-kind contributions, as requested from KMTA. In-kind matches may include volunteer time, labor, and materials. Since 2010, communities have invested more than a million dollars worth of donations and time in projects supported by $562,000 in KMTA grants.


This mountainous crossroads region is rich in history and innovative people. Small grants throughout the region are an effective way to share the stories of this place. For more information, please visit “Grants” at Interested individuals may also contact KMTA staff or board members.

2016 Annual Report available

January 30, 2017

Please click the link for the to KMTA’s 2016 Annual Report. Please be patient – it is a large file!

2016 Local Annual Report FINAL_V2

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Today’s Iditarod Trail still poses winter travel trials at Turnagain Pass

January 24, 2017

A recently restored segment of the historic Iditarod Trail beckons travelers at Turnagain Pass, but is not without traditional navigational challenges. Six large bridges are yet to be installed on this 11-mile trail segment connecting the Johnson Pass Trail up and over Turnagain Pass down to Seward Highway Milepost 72.5. Winter travel affords the best opportunity to cross the creeks traversing the route.

Skier on Iditarod National Historic Trail Dec. 31, 2016. Credit: Will Brennan, USFS

Skier on Iditarod National Historic Trail Dec. 31, 2016. Credit: Will Brennan, USFS

Alaska’s Iditarod Trail is world famous for the endurance sled dog race from Willow to Nome and nationally esteemed as one of 19 National Historic Trails. The Iditarod National Historic Trail is not a single continuous trail, but a network of 2,300 miles of trails that served as the conduit for winter commerce from Seward to Nome, particularly during the gold rush heyday of 1880-1920. Gold was sent out and supplies brought in via regular, supported dogsled routes from the port of Seward. Winter travel afforded easier passage of muskeg and brush, although it also threatened avalanche risk in steeper terrain.


The first 186 miles of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, known as the “Southern Trek”, are on Chugach National Forest land. Chugach National Forest is incrementally restoring the trail for non-motorized and winter motorized travel from Seward to Girdwood. Piece by piece, hikers, skiers, mushers, or snowmachiners may travel the traditional route that followed Native Alaskan trails and sustained later Gold Rush communities.


Dena’ina travelers used frozen rivers for winter travel and gold prospectors of the 1896 Turnagain Arm gold rush followed their lead. In the Turnagain Pass area, prospectors followed Ingram Creek from Turnagain Arm up to the pass. On the southwest side of the pass, the trail followed Granite Creek to Sixmile Creek, access to the boomtowns of Sunrise and Hope.


The Granite Creek-Ingram Creek trails were used until 1951 when the Seward Highway was completed along roughly the same route. This traditional trail has been restored by Chugach National Forest, save for six bridges, which have more demanding engineering specifications today than existed in 1908 when the Alaska Road Commission formally surveyed the Seward to Nome Mail Trail. From the north, the Turnagain Pass Iditarod trail leads from the Muskeg Meadows Trailhead at Milepost 72.5 near the base of Turnagain Pass up to Center Ridge (approximately halfway) to the North Johnson Pass Trailhead. A parallel trail for snowmachiners runs between Granite Creek Recreation Area and the west side rest area at Turnagain Pass.


Experienced winter travelers can negotiate creek crossings when low stream flow and ice bridges open the rolling landscape around Turnagain Pass. Skis or snowshoes are best for the soft snow present on the route as of early January reported by Chugach National Forest Trail Crew Coordinator Will Brennan. The relatively deep canyons of Spokane and Bertha Creeks are among the more challenging crossings of this route. There are no signs marking the trail, nor much traffic, so the trail is best for self-equipped travelers seeking a backcountry tour. As such, it is also a little-visited gem for backcountry Nordic skiers accessible from the Seward Highway.


North of Center Ridge, the trail is exposed to avalanche paths. Current avalanche conditions and safe travel guidance can be found at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center website, Also, if you make it to Girdwood on January 27th or 28th, you can join the Hot Dog and Ski Bunny party at the Sitzmark to benefit this invaluable organization.


If you explore Turnagain Pass this winter, you are tracing the same routes as potlaching Dena’ina, dog-running mail carriers, and pioneering road builders. Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area promotes and protects the heritage and continued use of corridors connecting Alaskan communities.

Forest Recreation Updates guide winter adventurers

December 16, 2016

As dynamic or deranged as recent winters have been in southcentral Alaska, hundreds of recreationalists can be grateful for timely, informative conditions updates from Chugach National Forest Seward Ranger District Forest Technician Irene Lindquist. Lindquist emails interested locals and visitors site-specific news of snow cover, ice thickness, mud levels, and downed trees.


“I wanted to get information out effectively,” Lindquist says of the listserv’s inception several years ago. “I meant it primarily for people in the local area, but interest grew to Chugach National Forest visitors throughout southcentral Alaska and other land managers.”


During the summer, Lindquist sends infrequent Forest Recreation Updates because trail conditions typically change more slowly. Last summer’s notifications included a warning of high fire danger and of a bear carcass found just off Carter Lake Trail. Recent winters have seen weather whipsaws that changed trails from ice to snow and back. Traditional opening dates for motorized use were delayed and sometimes cancelled due to insufficient snow cover. Many trail users plan winter travel based in part on Lindquist’s approximately weekly Seward District Recreation Updates.


Subscription to the Recreation Updates listserv has grown such that rangers in the Glacier District of Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge regularly share conditions reports and recreational announcements with Lindquist to help get the word out. Individuals interested in being added to Irene Lindquist’s Recreation Updates listserv should email her at


Research before setting out on a winter trip is essential, but even more so, Lindquist emphasizes, is each adult determining that they have the “right equipment, experience, and frame of mind.” Winter conditions can change rapidly. Ice thickness across a lake is not uniform. Equipment needs depends on group composition and type of trip. Lindquist notes that her first aid kid includes materials to care for her dogs and tools for releasing them from traps. Winter gear also includes extra layers, food, and hand warmers.


Terrain, weather, snowpack, and human decision-making all contribute to avalanche risk and every person traveling on or below mountains with snow should educate themselves on these factors. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center provides educational resources, weather reports, and daily advisories at Forecasters from the Center are offering a free “Fireside Chat” on avalanche awareness in Girdwood at the Glacier Ranger Station December 15th from 6:30-8 p.m. In Seward, a Center Forecaster will teach a free avalanche awareness class December 17 at the Seward Library from 1-3 p.m. Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center is the nonprofit partner for the center that helps sustain regular forecaster staffing all winter.


Chugach National Forest Recreation Updates are also available online at, although post time has varied. This site, also found by searching for “Chugach National Forest Recreation Updates,” provides a useful record of recent trends and announcements. Recreationalists can also call Ranger District offices to ask for available conditions updates.


The Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area seeks to preserve and promote the natural and cultural history of the region. One of KMTA’s key partners in interpretation, education, and recreation is Chugach National Forest. Learn more at


By snowshoe, sled, or snowmachine, Johnson Pass a storied route

December 1, 2016

johnsonpassbike_donnajeffersonJohnson Pass Trail allows backcountry access through spruce forests to striking subalpine lakes. Today winter visitors share the trail with recreating skiers, winter bikers, equestrians, and snow machiners (snow depth dependent). Travelers are expected to leave the popular trail unaltered. This was far from the case in 1904 when Congress summoned all men age 18 or older residing in Alaska to build roads two days a year or pay an annual $8 tax.


The recreational Johnson Pass Trail managed by Chugach National Forest today repeatedly overlaps the historic Johnson Pass Military Road built in the early days of United States infrastructure investments. If you know what to look for, cuts and fills north of Bench Lake provide clues, as does the older “corduroy” of logs laid across boggy sections of the roadbed mixed in with newer logs and aluminum culverts. If you don’t know what to look for, Chugach National Forest commissioned a survey of the historic road in 1991 with detailed maps. Winter was the original high season for Johnson Pass travel, when rivers froze for smoother travel and Cook Inlet shipping was interrupted by ice.


Predictably, the chaotic approach of a citizens’ labor summons did not open up roads through Alaska, but the 1904 law did signal a federal push to develop infrastructure in the seemingly open and yet intractably impassable Territory of Alaska. The Secretary of War oversaw federal funding and construction of roads, including the Johnson Pass Military Road in 1907, also known as Sunrise Road. This early road ran from Mile 34 of the Alaska Railroad through Johnson Pass, across Lynx Creek and down the west side of Sixmile Creek to Sunrise. The recreational Johnson Pass Trail managed by Chugach National Forest today follows much of the same southern route, and the Seward and Hope Highways follow much of the same northern route.


Travel in Alaska has long been a function of the season. Dena’ina people traveled extensively in winter, often for distant potlaches, by snowshoe, using frozen waterways. Most trails in Turnagain and Kenai originated from Dena’ina routes.


Gold prospecting drove the demand for year-round shipping routes. The Turnagain Arm gold rush kicked off with 3,000 gold seekers in 1896. For the next few decades, dog teams were the most reliable way to haul freight during the winter until supplanted by aviation in the 1920s. The Alaska Road Commission, under the Secretary of War, surveyed and constructed routes to Alaska’s gold fields. This network of trails became known as the Iditarod Trail.


Roadhouses along the Iditarod trail network sheltered mail carriers linking communities by dog team through snow, storm, and avalanches. At least three roadhouses operated along the Johnson Pass Military Road. In addition, prospectors built cabins near promising claims. The remains of a cabin noted on a 1910 map north of the Groundhog Creek bridge are indistinct, but evidence of another cabin and barn have been recorded at a site off-trail along the old road.


The Road Commission built three classes of road: wagon, winter sled, and pack and dog team trails. Wagon roads accommodated horse teams, which meant grading, crowning, and ditching the route. Johnson Pass Military Road was a wagon road, launching it as a key corridor to gold regions. The estimated cost of construction in 1907 was $13,000, including the hire of 25 men and a 40-foot-high, 60-foot-long bridge across Groundhog Creek. Big stumps were left in place to manage costs. Between June and October of 1907, the Johnson Pass route was converted to a 12-foot-wide wagon road. The 1909 Alaska Road Commission report recorded approximately 150 tons of freight hauled the previous winter.


As prospecting shifted, so did the fate of the road. By 1909, a trail leading northwest from Moose Pass to Quartz Creek was upgraded and travel shifted to this gentler, more sheltered route. At the same time, gold production in Sunrise and Hope were waning. A one-season boom in 1910 on Groundhog Creek revived use for a short period. Johnson Pass Military Road was maintained until 1920, when the southern section was abandoned. That abandonment contributed to its relative preservation, because it did not become a modern highway.


Today’s 23-mile Johnson Pass Trail is a modern trail, with Forest Service outhouses, bears boxes, and designated campsites. Snowmachiners need to verify if there’s enough snow cover before venturing into Chugach National Forest. The Avalanche Information site posts openings and closures at


The North and South trailheads are at mile 32.6 and 63.7 of the Seward Highway, although parking lots may not be plowed. From the north, winter non-motorized users should take the Johnson Pass Wagon Road at the western edge of the North trailhead parking lot rather than the hiking trail. The first 3.6 miles of trail, to the south side of Bench Creek Bridge, are closed to motorized users. Snowmachiners can travel up a mining road leading west from the North trailhead, cross East Fork Sixmile Creek, and head south to intersect the trail south of Bench Creek Bridge. From the south, when Upper Trail Lake is frozen, use it to connect to the Johnson Pass Trail at mile 7.9 via the Johnson Creek winter route.


The same perils encountered by earlier travelers exist today. Snowstorms can quickly obscure the route above tree line in the winter. There is a report of an uncomfortably curious wolf following a solo biker. Some sections of the trail pass between steep, avalanche-prone slopes and creeks. Snowpack and recent and forecast weather must be evaluated before you go. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center provides general conditions assessments, local weather, education resources links, and user-reported updates. This starting-point website is located at


If you explore Johnson Pass Trail this winter, you are passing through history as well as hemlock. Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area promotes and protects the heritage and continued use of corridors connecting Alaskan communities.

Roof raised on Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s new educational hall

October 31, 2016
Bison Hall  is scheduled to open in summer 2017. Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Bison Hall is scheduled to open in summer 2017.
Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Visitors to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center have been delighted by boisterous bear cubs, belugas swimming in Turnagain Arm, and climbing porcupines. However, the 220,000-plus visitors that come yearly have not had much room to hunker out of a howling wind or explore the habitat and history of wood bison.


The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is building a large indoor educational center for that purpose with plans to open the facility by the summer of 2017.


“We have raised the roof on Bison Hall. Now we are working on opening the doors,” reports Eileen Floyd, Director of Development at AWCC.


Once completed, the nearly 6,000 square foot space will provide a large indoor educational hall, a food service area, space and technology for year round programs, office space for staff, and additional restrooms.


Raising the rafters of Bison Hall has been a community effort thanks to support of individual, corporate, and foundation contributors. Major sponsors of the $1.86 million dollar project are Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, Atwood Foundation, BP, Kenai Mountain Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, M.J. Murdock Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Nordstrom, Rasmuson Foundation, Salmon Berry Tours, Tauck Tours, and Wells Fargo. $1.3 million has been raised so far. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center has invested much of its own budget to construct the new building and continues fundraising to cover the remaining cost.


Bison Hall pays tribute and tells the tale of the collaborative wood bison restoration project and the AWCC’s integral role as the breeding and holding center to raise an Alaskan stock. Prior to reintroduction in the Lower Innoko-Yukon Rivers area in 2015, wild wood bison were last seen in Alaska in 1900. They were believed to be extinct for decades until a small herd was found in Canada in 1957. Discussion began on the possibility of wild reintroduction.


In 2003, thirteen providential Canadian wood bison were brought to AWCC to begin a captive Alaskan heard. Safely shipping out 130 wood bison from Portage to western Alaska a dozen years and a few legal preparations later was no small feat. Bulls weigh an average of 1800 pounds, larger than their southern cousin, the plains bison. The wood bison herd has now born healthy calves in the wild. A small herd remains at AWCC.


The AWCC website describes both the wood bison restoration project and the progress of Bison Hall at The Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area supports community projects that promote the natural and cultural history of the region. KMTA awarded a $25,000 grant towards construction of Bison Hall. Learn more at

Grants awarded for trails and exhibits throughout mountain corridor

October 4, 2016
Bruin lounging at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: large animals like this one would not be treated indoors at the new AWCC animal infirmary, but would benefit nonetheless from having routine medical materials available on-site. Credit: Sarah Shimer

Bruin lounging at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: large animals like this one would not be treated indoors at the new AWCC animal infirmary, but would benefit nonetheless from having routine medical materials available on-site. Credit: Sarah Shimer

The renovated library in Moose Pass will soon include panels illustrating the past, a trails vision for Girdwood will become available for community input, and porcupines in Portage will have dedicated space for veterinary care. These are among the eight community projects bolstered by grants from Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA).


The autumn round of matching grants awarded at the September 22 meeting in Seward encompassed restoration in Hope, interpretation in Whittier, Hope, Moose Pass, and Portage and recreation on Girdwood and Chugach National Forest trails.


The Hope and Sunrise Historical Society will leverage donated materials and volunteer labor to replace rotting wooden foundations of two buildings at the Hope Museum and improve crawlspace ventilation under the main Museum building. KMTA also funded the Hope Museum $3000, under a separate grant, to support a Museum Development Coordinator, who will train youth tour guides, catalog artifacts, rework existing displays, and offer public programs.


Whittier will showcase more of its history as Begich Towers renovations continue. The primary residence in Whittier has been known as Begich Towers since 1973 when civilians inherited the town. When the US Army constructed the 15-story building in 1957, it was dedicated to Major Walter Hodge. Hodge led a horseback expedition to survey 300 miles of wilderness for the completion of the ALCAN Highway. His highway and airfield work took him from the Aleutians to Interior Alaska. Begich Towers Inc. will make a permanent exhibit showcasing the Hodge story with historic photos of Whittier in the West Lobby of Begich Towers.


Hope’s historic buildings will be easier to identify after the printing and installation of 20 metal signs to mark significant structures in the Hope Historic District. Visitors and residents will be able to read builder’s names and construction dates of storied buildings- including no fewer than four former post offices.


The library of Moose Pass has historic presence on its own, having served the community since the 1930s. The Moose Pass Library and Community Hall will illustrate more community history with new exhibits that invite viewers to “Discover the Story of Moose Pass”. Five historic panels will tell the story of town founders, location along the Historic Iditarod Trail, and continuing development. Community members will vote on five photographs to be printed and framed for display. The Library will also show a digital slideshow of evocative photos gathered in the project.


The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center will establish an animal infirmary to better care for their animals. Small mammals and birds will soon be cared for indoors and medical equipment for routine medical tests will be stored and used on site. The AWCC plans to complete the infirmary this winter.


Girdwood trails crisscross Glacier Valley, maintained, managed, and mapped by the Girdwood Trails Committee. This local committee has undertaken the tremendous job of creating a public planning document cataloging formal and informal trails and a list of trails expected to be in demand in the future. The Girdwood Trail Management Plan includes trails’ traditional use, route, and scenic and recreational descriptions. KMTA will fund the professional formatting of the plan, enabling it to be edited as a whole and presented to the public for input. The Management Plan will serve future trail managers, volunteer crews, and city planners.


Volunteer trail crews will be recruited, trained, and sustained in the growing Alaska Trail Volunteer program to equip volunteers to get dirty on the trails they love. Alaska Trails was awarded $6500 for volunteer training and coordination as part of a new partnership with Chugach National Forest to identify trails in need of work and direct the volunteer effort. This past summer, Alaska Trail Volunteers rerouted a portion of the Middle Fork Trail in Chugach State Park to a more sustainable path with decreased erosion damage. Trail locations and work dates are in preparation and will be available on the KMTA and Alaska Trails websites.


These eight grant projects, totaling $52,618 in reimbursements and leveraging $5,5045 in matching funds and in-kind contributions, are investments in the Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm corridor’s people and recreational, natural, and historic resources. For more information, visit