North Pole receives federal grant to clean up creeks

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2000

NORTH POLE (AP) -- North Pole has received a federal grant to help clean up debris-filled creeks in the city.

North Pole received the $285,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant in October and now is looking for a projects coordinator. The two-year project is intended to clean up Beaver Springs Slough, and the waterway it empties into at the city's eastern edge.

Initial plans call for a one-mile nature trail with educational displays and park benches. The walking path will follow the slough from City Hall to Fifth Avenue Park and connect Santaland RV Park with the undeveloped wooded area between it and the proposed trail.

''You'll be able to sit and enjoy the natural scenery,'' Mayor Jeff Jacobson said. ''You can enjoy a little bit of nature in the city.''

In addition to fishing and hiking, the area will offer wildlife viewing of beavers, fish and waterfowl.

The Miller family, owners of Santa Claus House, has owned the land on which the trail will be built since the 1960s. A 10-year land use agreement between the Millers and the city is in the works.

''We don't plan to develop the property for a long while,'' Mike Miller said. ''It will be nice for people to be able to walk there.''

Cleaning up the slough and its banks will be a top priority. He said nonprofit groups who want to join the cleanup effort will be eligible for mini-grants.

''They can adopt part of it,'' he said. ''They can do cleanup or bank repairs and use their creativity to come up with project ideas.''

The city and the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District will review the proposals.

Jacobson said the city has wanted to clean up the slough for several years. He credited Sen. Ted Stevens with helping obtain the money to fund the project.

Once a project coordinator is hired, meetings will be held to distribute recent fish study results and to get public comment, said Mary Gleason, soil conservation technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Homeowners may be able to apply for matching grants to build buffer strips of vegetation along the slough and may be eligible for funds to replace septic tanks that are within 100 feet of the waterway, Gleason said.

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