Frank Baker: Chugach Park Fund supports trails and other park amenities

Monday, May 14, 2018 - 09:33

With summer upon us, hiking and camping opportunities abound in our vast back yard: Chugach State Park. With nearly one-half million acres, the park is one of Alaska’s premier recreation areas.

Conceived by an Anchorage grassroots organization in 1969 and signed into law by the Alaska Legislature in 1970, Chugach State Park is one of the four largest state parks in the U.S. In addition to an abundance of varied flora, it is home to diversity of wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, mountain goats, wolverines, and an abundance of birdlife.

The park receives tens of thousands of visitors each year and attracts a steadily increasing number of tourists. The year 2020 will mark the park’s 50th Anniversary.

With state revenues declining in recent years, budgets for park trails and other amenities have been severely constrained. Recognizing a growing need for maintenance of park facilities and development of trails, a 15-member group called the Chugach State Park Citizen Advisory Board created the Chugach Park Fund in 2016. The fund is managed by the Alaska Community Foundation, an umbrella organization for a host of community initiatives. The Foundation was established in 1995 to cultivate, celebrate and sustain all forms of philanthropy to strengthen Alaska’s communities.

Considering its size and high per-capita number of outdoor recreationists, Alaska has relatively few “Class A” trails compared to many lower 48 states. The Chugach Park Fund’s goal is to build the maintain trails and trail-related amenities to meet the demands of a burgeoning outdoor community.

Another private (volunteer) organization, Alaska Trails (under the leadership of Steve Cleary) has been making strides in trail improvement and development. An example is recent improvement to the Middle Fork Trail in the Glen Alps area of South Anchorage.

To learn more about Alaska Trails, go to: http://www.alaska-trails.org

To learn more about the Chugach Park fund and how to donate, click here.

Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River.

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