Alaska, History, KPB, Moose Pass News

Grants awarded for trails and exhibits throughout mountain corridor

Bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center will benefit from an on-site animal infirmary, although they will not be treated indoors. Credit: Sarah Shimer (Sept. 2016)
Bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center will benefit from an on-site animal infirmary, although they will not be treated indoors.
Credit: Sarah Shimer (Sept. 2016)

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.

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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 www.kmtacorridor.org

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