After clearing a few last hurdles, this land sale is now final (October 2012) and 150 acres of river bottom lands are now owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. This is a culmination of over 10 years of work by several agencies and organizations to use mitigation funds to protect Seward-area salmon habitat.
This purchase will fulfill several goals; it will prevent development within the floodplain, conserve vital wetlands, and protect habitat as required by the mitigation funds that will cover a large percentage of the funding. This purchase will also allow the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area the ability to harvest accumulated gravel from strategic pick points to help minimize flooding.
The US Army Corps of Engineers requires compensatory mitigation for losses of aquatic resources that result from work authorized by Corps permits. Over the past 13 years five federally funded projects effectively displaced 23 acres of salmon habitat in the Seward area. This resulted in $281,344 being placed in a conservation fund.
Since 2006 RBCA has functioned as a local advisor in the effort to find land owners willing to lease or sell their riparian lands to protect salmon habitat.
Due to a few setbacks, a proposal was made to use these funds to buy habitat lands outside of the Seward area. Having attended Flood Service Area Board meetings, RBCA’s Watershed Coordinator was aware that the Steward Land Trust properties represented a willing seller of suitable habitat lands. RBCA contacted all the parties involved with these mitigation funds and in a single round of emails, the funds found new hope for use in the Seward area.
Over the years several agencies and organizations advanced the success of this project. These included the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, The Conservation Fund, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The KPB Lands Department expended significant energy to make this transaction happen and they deserve special credit. RBCA thanks all participants for their perseverance and efforts through this lengthy, but important process.
This map shows the private lots that were part of this purchase. The lots with black borders were purchased with the mitigation funds and the lots with yellow borders were purchased with Flood Board funds.