Wildlife get 3,000 more acres creating corridor on Afognak Island

Portage Lake, Afognak Island. (Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)

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,” Ellen Kazary, executive director of Great Land Trust, a conservation non-profit, said. “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.

The Portage Lake Property includes 750 acres of wetlands, Sitka Spruce, salmon and blueberries, Kazary said.

“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,” Kazary said. “It creates this brilliant corridor for wildlife and just increases their ability to survive and flourish.”

Natives of Kodiak CEO Jim Erickson said in a news 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.

Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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