Land along Anchor River saved for conservation

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sixty-four acres of land along salmon-rich Anchor River will be set aside for permanent conservation, the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust announced recently.

Director Barbara Seaman said the acreage, which fronts both sides of the river for a distance of more than half a mile, is part of the land trust's broader Anchor River Floodplain Protection Project, described as an effort to work with willing landowners to permanently preserve significant parcels along the river.

The Anchor River property had been part of a homestead owned by John (deceased) and Margaret Pate in the 1950s.

Margaret Pate, now a long-time Homer resident, donated a portion of the value of the property to the land trust. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act program funded the balance of the purchase, the land trust said.

About two-thirds of the land along the lower Anchor River is privately owned, though the state and borough also own land on the lower river. Acquisition of the Pate land by KHLT will serve to protect the world-class salmon and steelhead fishing area, something the Pate's desired.

"I truly believe that the property belongs in the hands of the land trust and I know that my mother feels the same," said Margaret's son, Michael Pate.

The river protection effort is but one among many land and historical preservation projects being conducted by the land trust.

In December, a local resident, Eileen Harrington, granted KHLT a conservation easement on 33 acres in the Baycrest/Diamond Ridge area. According to the land trust, the easement will protect scenic values, water quality, wildlife habitat and native vegetation.

In September 2004, KHLT got a 26-acre conservation easement from the city of Homer for Louie's Lagoon on the east side of the Homer Spit. The land trust said the parcel was "an important coastal lagoon protected for wildlife habitat, especially for migratory waterfowl."

The Homer Spit is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, part of the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Reserve and part of the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area.

In March of last year, KHLT began restoration of the historic Victor Holm cabin on the Kasilof River, thought to be the oldest homestead cabin on the peninsula. The first phase of that restoration has been completed.

"Sometime in the future we are looking to turn that into a museum," Seaman said, adding that numerous artifacts found at the cabin site eventually would be returned to the cabin.

In February of last year, KHLT announced that it had received 8.4 acres of land in a subdivision off Skyline Drive on the bluff above Homer. Donated by the Alaska International Education Foundation, the land will be managed for conservation and serve as open space in a residential subdivision, KHLT said.

The Skyline Drive property is considered high-priority moose habitat as well as home to black bear, lynx, snowshoe hares and other wildlife. As conservation land, it will be off limits to development, hunting, trapping, shooting or motorized recreation, KHLT said.

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