Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Alaska that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Developing an all-season trail system at Denali State Park and a water trail in Kachemak Bay are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Sean Parnell and the state of Alaska, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Alaska and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Alaska highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Denali State Park Trails
Denali State Park sits on the south side of the Alaska Range, adjacent to Denali National Park and Preserve. The 325,000-acre park is remarkable for its spectacular views of towering glaciers and ice-carved gorges. Glacial streams wind down to the tundra, home to moose, grizzly bears, caribou, and other wildlife.
With its beautiful views and unique landscape, the region is popular for sightseeing and recreation by both residents and out-of-state visitors, and anticipated developments in the region are expected to increase demand. The state park provides a range of recreation experiences that often complement those available in the national park, including a trail system with several trailheads along the state's major north-south highway.
The state needs assistance to plan, develop, and maintain an all-season trail system that allows for optimum outdoor-recreational use of the area while protecting the natural and cultural resources of the park.
Kachemak Bay Water Trail
The goal of the Kachemak Bay Water Trails Association in Homer is to identify a designated water trail suitable for small watercraft from the Homer Spit up the north shore of Kachemak Bay and down the south shore to Seldovia. This trail would connect communities at both ends of the bay to one another and to the outstanding recreational and educational offerings of the bay.
The proposed trail is approximately 125 miles long, and the proposal will identify access points, landing sites, and recreational facilities available to the public. Educational information related to flora and fauna, native cultures, and geology will greatly enhance recreational and educational opportunities and promote water safety.
The Kachemak Bay Water Trail will emphasize stewardship of the resources and providing Alaska youth and adults with a fun way to learn about the bay, beaches, estuaries, and uplands and their importance to the marine ecosystem.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. At Denali State Park, for example, the Department could provide technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to develop a trail-management plan with recommendations for design, construction, management, and potential funding sources.
At Kachemak Bay, the Department could provide technical assistance from RTCA to develop a marine-based water trail system, provide recommendations for development of the water trail, build partnerships, identify funding sources, and ultimately designate the project as a National Water Trail.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus — including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.