On Saturday night, join Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) and raise a toast to some of the Kenai Peninsula’s finest forward thinkers.
Twenty-five years ago, a group of people got together and formed Alaska’s first land trust dedicated to helping private land owners preserve naturally, recreationally and culturally valuable lands.
“We are the organization that helps private land owners protect their land forever,” explains Marie McCarty, executive director of KHLT. “Since its inception, KHLT has helped preserve thousands of acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat throughout the Kenai Peninsula. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited about what’s to come.”
Saturday’s celebration begins at 7 p.m. with a reception accompanied by music from Homer’s own Johnny B. At 8 p.m., KHLT will take the stage and present highlights of the organization’s conservation efforts and commemorate the organization’s founders. At 9 p.m., Los Holy Santos Gang takes the stage. There will be no cover charge, though donations are welcome.
Working from a small house tucked away at the end of Klondike Street, the five people working for KHLT have a few big projects in the works.
This summer, they will build a short trail on a piece of marshland at the top of West Skyline Drive above Homer.
“We were given 18 acres of land once owned by Gene and Min Effler, one of Homer’s first homesteading families,” said McCarty. “It was Gene’s wish that their land be preserved for habitat protection and that it be accessible to the public.”
Like the Calvin and Coyle Nature Trail (also owned and protected by KHLT) the new Effler trail will have a small place to park and a low impact walking trail that leads to a viewing platform.
Tara Schmidt of the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District remembers the construction of the Calvin and Coyle Trail.
“It was a great example of how the land trust worked with other organizations in town to make the trail happen,” she says. “They had the property and we had the trail crew. It was a great community project that even included collaboration with Paul Banks School and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.”
KHLT recently partnered with Cook Inletkeeper to identify cold water spots that are critically important to juvenile and adult salmon along the Anchor River. With the information they gathered, KHLT is now working to purchase land parcels along the south fork of the river.
“Our goal is to create a corridor for salmon to travel up and down the river,” says McCarty. “We bought three properties adjacent to Department of Natural Resources Land and other preserved riverfront properties.”
KHLT also currently is working with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to develop a plan for the three-and-a-half acres of land that KHLT acquired on Poopdeck Road in Homer.
“The people we work with really care about their land and what to do with it,” says McCarty. “Whether they donate their land outright for us to protect, donate a conservation easement or ask our help to protect their land, they see the need to preserve spaces for everyone’s benefit.”
KHLT is funded by memberships, grants, donations of money and land, fundraisers and bequests.
“It is a huge honor to work with landowners for the good of the future,” says McCarty. “These are people who are thinking way ahead, for the next generation and the generations after them.”
For more information on the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, visit: www.kachemaklandtrust.org or call 235-5263.
Sarah Richardson is a freelance writer and the author of the blog “Becoming Alaskan — Life at the End of the Road.” She and her husband, Bill, and their two children live in Homer.