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Borough requests 27,000 acres from state

Posted: July 24, 2013 - 9:53pm

Next month the Kenai Peninsula Borough will officially petition the state for a selection of state lands under a land-grant program that seeks to transfer an allotment of 27,000 acres into borough ownership.

The transfer, if approved, would bring the borough up to its legally appropriated amount of 155,780 acres.

Borough lands manager Marcus Mueller said the Aug. 14 presentation to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is the beginning of the next phase in a decades-long process, which started in the late 1960s.

“We’re already 40 some years in the making,” Muller said of the borough’s real estate collection.

The work by DNR to approve the application could take years. Mueller said the state would go through each of the parcels chosen to see that the borough’s selections of lands coincide within state guidelines and overall land use objectives.

An online map of the lands chosen can be found on the borough’s website on the land management page. Also found there are some of the supporting documents, including public survey results.

Going forward the borough’s effort will focus on working with the state to ensure the proposal is submitted properly, with all supporting documentation necessary to make it final, Mueller said.

Planning commissions from communities such as Moose Pass, Cooper Landing and Hope-Sunrise all approved of the borough’s choices, which received final approval by the Kenai Borough Assembly on July 2.

That the communities are in favor is one of the best results of the months long process and clear proof of the level of public input during the selection process, Mueller said.

“We can confirm (the lands chosen) as important to the people,” Mueller said.

One example is the 100-acre request for lands in Moose Pass where the state has 10,000 acres to the borough’s current 10 acres. They worked with the community to select land somewhat based on the community’s hopes for future use, such as a city park or school.

Leadership picked lands all quadrants of the Borough — from Kenai to Union Lake to the Anchor River to Halibut Cove. Most sought parcels are 100 to 300 acres, but range in size from half-an-acre to 2,200 acres.

Community members at each location voiced their opinions and concerns about the land choices most suitable to their concerns, said Borough Mayor Mike Navarre.

“People provided very direct input on planning and community vision,” said Navarre. “This land grant is of the utmost local importance.”

Though 90 percent of the borough’s total acreage is undeveloped and will likely remain so, future uses would likely include schools, garbage collection stations, recreation complexes and borough buildings.

Tsalteshi Trails, Twin Cities Raceway and the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area are current examples of development of borough lands under public use in the central peninsula.

The reality is that most of the land is going to remain intact with “native qualities,” Mueller said.

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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