Ed Berg, right, accepts the Land at Heart Award from Nina Faust (left) and Marie McCarty (center) during the annual gala fundraiser event for the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 at Wasabi’s Bistro in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Ed Berg, right, accepts the Land at Heart Award from Nina Faust (left) and Marie McCarty (center) during the annual gala fundraiser event for the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 at Wasabi’s Bistro in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Ed Berg honored with Land at Heart award

Ecologist Ed Berg is this year’s recipient of the Land at Heart Award from the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust.

Given out annually since 2014 at the gala fundraiser for the land trust, the award goes to people in the community who have made significant contributions to land conservation on the Kenai Peninsula.

Berg, a resident of the peninsula for 40 years, holds a doctorate and served as the ecologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge from 1993-2010. He conducts research in geology, climatology and paleoclimatology, and currently teaches courses through Kenai Peninsula College. He’s also working on a book about the landscape of the western peninsula, according to a press release from the land trust.

“This is such an honor to be able to honor Ed,” said Marie McCarty, executive director of KHLT.

McCarty reminisced about when she took a geology class with Berg a few years ago.

“When I came out of the class I saw the world completely differently,” she said. “Because Ed sees the world both in contemporary times and in (a) geologic scale. And so it’s just so interesting to look at the world that way, especially from a land trust where we’re protecting land in perpetuity.”

Accepting the award, Berg said he appreciates the land trust for its longterm perspective.

“We can see the changes going on around us, everywhere,” he said. “I expect that Homer is going to be a place where climate refugees will come.”

“The idea of preserving lands in perpetuity, that’s just terrific,” he continued.

Berg said preserving land through the formation of public-private partnerships may end up being a better way to protect it than through federal protections alone.

The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust was the first land trust to be established in the entire state back in 1989, one month before the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Previous recipients of the award are:

2014 — Lynn Whitmore

2015 — Toby Tyler

2016 — Ed Bailey and Nina Faust

2017 — Carmen and Conrad Field

2018 — Daisy Lee Andersen Bitter

Editor’s note: The years of Berg’s work as an ecologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge have been corrected.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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