A local nonprofit group known for placing scenic lands in public hands is raising funds to purchase a major Mat-Su Valley landmark for residents of the Mat-Su Borough.
In a statement, the Great Land Trust says it hopes to buy the uppermost 40 acres of the Bodenburg Butte from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The group quotes Marcie Menefee, executive director of the Trust Land Office, as giving the proposal a positive reception.
“We are excited about this land sale and to be working with Great Land Trust,” Menefee said in the statement. “We see this opportunity as a win-win. Revenue is generated for improving the lives and circumstances of the beneficiaries of the Mental Health Trust while the public is able to enjoy the Butte as a community asset for future generations.”
The Great Land Trust has been involved in a number of Southcentral land purchases which ultimately ended up available to the public. In 2010, the trust shepherded a deal to transfer 60 acres of the Campbell Creek estuary to the Municipality of Anchorage, despite initial opposition from Mayor Dan Sullivan. The following year, the trust bought a conservation easement from the Eklutna Native Corp. for 4,800 acres at the mouth of the Knik and Matanuska rivers, leaving the land under corporate ownership but contractually barring its development.
The trust hopes to raise $187,500 to “Help Buy the Butte” this summer, with a Thursday fundraiser planned from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wasilla Elks Lodge at 2600 N. Barry Resort Drive. Group members cite its unique overview of the Matanuska Valley, the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains and the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, as well as the Knik Glacier.
“Where else in the country can you see both glaciers and farmland at the top of a mountain?” the trust’s executive director, Phil Shephard, said in the statement. “We want future generations of Alaskans to be able to have that experience and relationship with this special place.”
If the trust is able to purchase the Butte’s summit, it plans to donate the land to the Mat-Su Borough. Eventually, members of the group hope to recruit volunteers and build a new kiosk for the trailhead to the summit.