Kenny Lake Locals Donate Land for Conservation and Education:Great Land Trust and Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment Become Partners in Land Management
Copper River Record January 10, 2019
Great Land Trust
An oasis of wildlife species richness and diversity in the Copper River Valley is now conserved forever, thanks to a generous donation by longtime residents, and a partnership between Great Land Trust and a local nonprofit. The 40-acre property lies near the confluence of the Tonsina and Copper rivers. The owners desire to see the land remain in a relatively natural state, subject to the ebbs and flows of natural change, influenced their decision to donate the land to the Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment (WISE) with a conservation easement held by Great Land Trust. The donors wanted to safeguard this habitat for wildlife and provide a space for WISE to implement its goals of promoting environmental education, research, and stewardship.
An influx of groundwater at the property creates rare, clear water streams that remain open through winter and encourage rich species diversity. In their time here, the donors have seen and documented a diversity of migratory and resident birds, small and large mammals, and three species of salmon at multiple life stages. One of their favorite memories is of canoeing downstream and seeing a family of mink run across the top of a beaver dam. Another memorable moment was in the winter of 2015, with mild conditions that allowed a sighting of a Belted Kingfisher, a species known to have existed for at least 2 million years; a rare winter occurrence for this region of Alaska that was only possible due to the presence of open water and riparian habitat.
WISE wanted to give the conserved property an appropriate name, and out of respect to the traditional Ahtna use of the area, an Ahtna name was the preferred choice. Robin Mayo, WISE Executive Director, agreed and in researching Ahtna place names for the area discovered the area was described as “Nic’anilen Na’.” Nic’anilen Na’ translates as “current flows out from shore creek” and describes the stream flowing into the Copper River below the Lower Tonsina.
WISE is a nonprofit organization which has been providing science and environmental education in the Copper River Basin since 2002. As the new owners, they will develop a plan for the property, including trails, interpretive signs, and visitor facilities such as outhouses and a pavilion. They hope to ultimately host field trips and camps onsite to share this fascinating and beautiful place with the public.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.