Anchorage woman donates land to botanical garden

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Longtime Anchorage resident Oro Stewart has donated 50 acres in Potter Valley to the Alaska Botanical Garden.

Stewart said she hopes her donation will encourage other people to give land to organizations like the garden.

''I thought it would start the ball rolling,'' she said.

The area will become the Ivan and Oro Stewart Alpine Nature Walk. Stewart's attorney, the botanical garden and the city government are working out the final details, said Gale Hoefler, executive director of the garden.

Public tours will not be planned until after the legal matters have been settled, which should be in the next 30 days, Hoefler said.

Stewart is probably best known as the owner of Star the reindeer and Stewart's Photo shop on Fourth Avenue.

Stewart and her husband, Ivan, homesteaded in Potter Valley in the 1950s. The property still features the poppies, strawberries and Shasta daisies Stewart planted decades ago as well as wildflowers. Wildlife remains abundant on the property. The flora has been featured in two books on wildflowers.

Carmel Tysver of the botanical garden said the garden group plans to leave the area as it is, though some of the trail to the land may be cleared.

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