More than 3,000 acres of ecologically rich land on Afognak Island is now protected through a wildlife and recreation corridor.
“There has been some logging in the area, but it is fairly minimal,” said Ellen Kazary, Executive Director for the conservation non-profit, Great Land Trust.
“So, you are flying over these impressive lakes and streams. And I’ve seen bears just running around. When we land, it is just teaming with salmon. And the birds, you can’t even count them. It’s just jaw dropping. You feel like you are in a National Geographic special.”
Great Land Trust partnered with the native corporation Natives of Kodiak to conserve the land. Kazary says the Portage Lake property includes 750 acres of wetlands, Sitka spruce, salmon and blueberries.
“The Portage Lake project actually connects 180,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat on Afognak because it touches the Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge and Afognak Island State Park. So, it creates this brilliant corridor for wildlife and just increases their ability to survive and flourish,” said Kazary.
Jim Erickson, CEO of Natives of Kodiak, said in a press release, “We are excited about the sale of this property because it conserves this land for future generations of Natives of Kodiak shareholders and others to enjoy.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identifies Afognak Island among the most productive habitats in the Gulf of Alaska.
The land was purchased with funds from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trust Fund and donated to the State of Alaska with a conservation easement held by the Bureau of Land Management.
Access to the land will be open to the public.
Natives of Kodiak was paid the full value of the land, benefiting its shareholders.