From top to bottom: Bill Hague, Dave Brann and Robert Archibald hold up their Land at Heart awards during a ceremony held via Zoom by Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. (Photo courtesy Blake Gebhardt)

From top to bottom: Bill Hague, Dave Brann and Robert Archibald hold up their Land at Heart awards during a ceremony held via Zoom by Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. (Photo courtesy Blake Gebhardt)

Kachemak Heritage Land Trust honors 3 with Land at Heart award

Award ceremony for Robert Archibald, Bill Hague and Dave Brann held virtually

Three locals dedicated to wildlife conservation have been awarded the Land at Heart award by the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, according to a Dec. 10 press release.

This year’s recipients are Dave Brann, Bill Hague and Robert Archibald. The award, bestowed on those who make “distinguished contributions to land and conservation on the Kenai Peninsula,” has been given out annually at the land trust’s fall fundraising gala since 2014.

As with many annual events and ceremonies, the land trust decided to hold the awards ceremony virtually this year due to ongoing safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Donna Aderhold, president of the land trust’s board, said the organization had considered holding the event outside, but in the end a virtual ceremony was the safest option.

Alaska’s very first land trust, KHLT was founded in 1989. One of this year’s winners of the Land at Heart award, Archibald, was one of the land trust founders.

The three winners received their award in a frame along with a four-pack of the Double Spruce Tip IPA, according to the press release. That beer is brewed by Kenai River Brewing Company in partnership with the land trust. A portion of the proceeds from its sales go to KHLT for conservation land management.

This is the first year three people have been jointly selected to receive the award. Aderhold explained that Archibald, Brann and Hague can often be found together when working to maintain and improve the trails and outdoor recreation opportunities of the Kachemak Bay area. From their instrumental work establishing the Kachemak Bay Water Trail, to constructing tent platforms and other campground infrastructure throughout the bay area and work on Nordic ski trails, the three men have provided valuable work, she said.

“It feels, to me, that Dave Brann and Robert Archibald — you see them more in the community. They’re more actively engaged,” Aderhold said. “But if you look just a little behind them, you always find Bill Hague. He’s always there.”

Aderhold said it was important to recognize all three men for their accomplishments, especially Hague since his work is often quiet and done in the background. He’s often the one operating equipment, and is happy to do so.

“People who work in land conservation and helping others get out and enjoy the natural environment are often working it the background,” Aderhold said. “And it’s something that we all value, having these natural habitats and getting out in the woods.”

That’s become especially true since the onset of the pandemic, she said, when outdoor activities are safer than indoor ones.

During the virtual awards ceremony, Archibald and Brann thanked the land trust for the award.

“Winner Bill Hague appeared grateful and content not to comment,” the press release states. “When asked if he had anything he would like to share he humbly replied, ‘I’m sharpening my Leatherman.’”

“It’s really fun and an honor to be a part of this community that makes Homer what it is,” Brann is quoted as saying in the press release.

“Thank you,” Archibald said. “We wouldn’t do this if the land trust wasn’t a noble venture. We are all in this together and if we don’t make things a little more palatable especially right now, we may as well just pack it up and go home.”

Joel Cooper, stewardship director of the land trust, called the three men the “Three Amigos.”

“They’re always out there helping and I cannot tell you how much they mean to KHLT’s stewardship program,” Cooper is quoted as saying in the press release. “If it were not for the great contributions made by Dave, Robert, and Bill this year on Phase II of the Poopdeck Trail you would not see the great progress of the trail like it’s looking now.”

KHLT Executive Director Marie McCarty echoed those sentiments.

“You guys are amazing,” she is quoted as saying. “Robert was one of the land trust founders and I bet when you look back on where we began to where we are now you must be happy.”

Previous winners of the Land at Heart award are:

2014: Lynn Whitmore

2015: Toby Tyler

2016: Carmen and Conrad Field

2017: Ed Bailey and Nina Faust

2018: Daisy Lee Bitter

2019: Ed Berg

2020: Robert Archibald, Bill Hague and Dave Brann

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