Conservation easement will protect 4,800 acres of Knik-Matanuska area land
Deal applauded for preserving future, past uses of Eklutna land
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan praised the deal as helping preserve the area’s unique habitat.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
A massive swath of land at the confluence of the Knik and Matanuska Rivers has been set aside for conservation thanks to a $1.95 million land deal signed Friday, Nov. 4 by Eklutna, Inc. Board President Michael Curry.
The deal, which was announced earlier in the week, will set aside approximately 4,800 acres of land as a conservation easement.
“It’s a glorious day for us to set that aside,” said Eklutna CEO Curtis McQueen.
Eklutna will be paid $1.95 million for the land through the Great Land Trust.
Great Land Trust executive director Phil Shephard called the deal to permanently protect the land from development “incredibly rewarding.”
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan was on hand for the signing. Sullivan applauded the deal as both recognizing the unique character of the area — which is adjacent to the Palmer Hay Flats and Chugach State Park — and preserving Eklutna’s traditional uses.
“It really does preserve for the future but honors the past,” Sullivan said.
Under the terms of the deal, the land will remain under Eklutna’s ownership, and traditional uses by the company’s shareholders will continue. Public access through permits — which is currently allowed — will continue, McQueen said.
The area is well known for having excellent salmon habitat as well as some of the most scenic views in Southcentral.
Shephard said the deal was more than two years in the making.
According to Eklutna, the project was made possible through a collaborative effort that also included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Cook Inlet Region Inc.
McQueen said the conservation easement is in keeping with Eklutna’s desire to keep much of its land in the public domain.
“We are honored to work with the Great Land Trust to protect key habitat for our shareholders and the community,” he said. “We anticipate doing more transactions of this kind in the future.”