Game Board gets involved in proposed land sale near Cooper Landing

Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- The state Board of Game is the latest organization to take sides in the proposed sale of some public land at Cooper Landing, on the Kenai Peninsula.

A dispute between pro-development interests and people who value the land for recreation and wildlife viewing grew more heated last week with a letter from Game Board chairwoman Lori Quakenbush to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley.

''Since 1953, the Cooper Landing closed area (land closed to sheep and goat hunting) has provided unsurpassed opportunities for public enjoyment of Dall sheep and mountain goats in their natural environment,'' Quakenbush wrote, adding that the only public area available for viewing and photographing the animals lies on borough land at the base of the Broadview Cliffs.

''The Board of Game supports the Copper (sic) Landing Advisory Committee in requesting that the borough protect wildlife and public use values on these critical lands,'' the letter said.

But Assembly President Bill Popp said her comments won't have any impact on the borough assembly's plans to sell 10 acres near the base of the cliffs as part of a residential subdivision.

The property lies along the Sterling Highway, overlooking Kenai Lake near the mouth of Quartz Creek.

''Tract A is some of the most buildable land in the area,'' Popp told the Peninsula Clarion. ''In my opinion, it's still an appropriate piece to include in that sale.''

The state Division of Wildlife Conservation, the Cooper Landing Fish and Game Advisory Committee, the Cooper Landing Advisory Planning Commission and the Friends of Cooper Landing also oppose the sale.

Quakenbush said the Game Board wrote Bagley in response to a letter from the Cooper Landing Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

The committee asked the panel to support preserving land at the base of the cliffs as a wildlife study and conservation area. It also supported construction nearby of a wildlife visitor center and research facility, and restoration of a former U.S. Forest Service sheep and goat interpretive site south of the highway.

''We were happy to offer our support,'' Quakenbush said. ''My understanding is that it's the only place in the area where you can view sheep and goats from the road.''

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