Setting land aside for future generations

Posted: Monday, February 07, 2000

The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust recently received five donations to further preserve habitat, open spaces and recreational land.

The Homer based organization makes it a daily task to preserve land for public benefit with significant recreational and cultural purposes.

Shelley Gill of Homer donated 77 acres of open space under trust easement. The land stretches across a portion of the old Reuben Call homestead. From the land, Iliamna and Yukon Island are visible, Gill said.

"It is the most beautiful scenic area," she said.

Gill said Call homesteaded the land in the 1950s but had to sell it many years later due to an accident that left him paralyzed. He sold the land to Alaska Pacific University, with two provisions made with then-APU president Glenn Olds. The first provision was that the land never be sold and is used to teach children about homesteading, the second being that his nephew, Richard Purington, could live on the land until he died.

Call died in the 1990s and the APU president moved on, Gill said.

"The promise apparently moved on with him," she added.

The land was put on the market and in the summer of 1998, Call's nephew was sent an eviction notice, Gill said.

Gill formed a group of six people and scrambled to meet the offer. She and her partners purchased the land on June 2, 1999.

They donated 77 acres to the trust and provided two permanent public trails to be added to the Homestead Trail and Nordic Ski Club trail network.

"The donations are a wonderful way to support what we do," said Barbara Seaman, executive director of KHLT.

KHLT also received a donation of land on the south shore of Kachemak Bay as "trade land." Though the land does not meet KHLT's criteria for permanent preservation, the parcel of property in Neptune Bay will be sold to benefit the conservation program. The land must sell for fair market value, Seaman said.

A historic cabin and the land on which it sits also recently was donated to KHLT. Elfrida Lewis and her late husband, Charlie, owned the land the cabin was on.

The cabin is in good shape, essentially dry and a treasure on the peninsula worth preserving, Seaman said.

The cabin was built in the 1890s by Victor Holm and is considered to be one of the oldest buildings on the peninsula. The Lewises carefully preserved the cabin and abundance of artifacts left inside over the years.

She said KHLT hopes to work with the Kasilof Historical Society to maintain and manage the property for years to come.

Land is not the extent of the donations.

In November, a couple of longtime land trust members transferred a donation of 100 shares of stock.

As well as the feeling of helping the land trust, donors also receive a deduction from the Internal Revenue Service for the value of the donation.

"We are definitely, very excited about the donation," Seaman said.

Seaman would not say what the company stock was in or how much it was worth.

The most recent donation is from singer Jewel Kilcher and her mother and manager, Nedra Carroll. The women donated $5,000 each to the Homer Town Square Project. The donations will further the work of the community to create a downtown area that includes open spaces, pedestrian and bike trails and development that will provide economic opportunity for the area.

In a letter included with the donations, they wrote, "We love Homer and share your (KHLT's) interest that it be developed in a way that preserves its beauty."

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