Hawaii & Alaska
Great Land Trust has proposed to purchase undeveloped land between Potter Marsh, at left, and Golden View Drive, at right, to become the new Potter Marsh Watershed Park in Anchorage. When completed in 2025, the project will be a new 300-acre municipal park on the hillside above Potter Marsh. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

AK - Nonprofit, with Anchorage city support, aims to create 300-acre conservation park near Potter Marsh

For years, South Anchorage residents have used informal trails that run through the undeveloped area — land also critical to Potter Marsh’s thriving wildlife habitat.

In the foothills just above where the freshwater ponds and sedges of Anchorage’s iconic Potter Marsh meet the base of the Chugach Mountains, the prospect of a new 300-acre park is likely to soon become reality.

Local nonprofit Great Land Trust is in the process of purchasing 200 acres of undeveloped land in South Anchorage from Alaska telecommunications company GCI and expects to close on the property in 2025. The Anchorage municipality’s Heritage Land Bank has plans to dedicate another 100 acres of adjoining land.

If all goes according to plan, the area will become the Potter Marsh Watershed Park.

“It has this great conservation impact. But I think it also has this wonderful community impact,” said Ellen Kazary, executive director of Great Land Trust.

The project area is bordered by Golden View Drive to the east and Old Seward Highway to the west.

About 3 1/2 miles of informal “trespass” trails already snake through the property, Kazary said. For decades, residents of the area have frequented the trails for recreational activities like dog walking, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, according to Kazary and Dave Mitchell, conservation director with the Land Trust.

“The terrain is just fantastic. You get amazing views of the Anchorage Wildlife Refuge and Cook Inlet. I mean, it’s just breathtaking up there,” Kazary said. “... So it just really is conducive to becoming a park and a place people want to visit. It has this nice balance of great conservation, wonderful habitat and human use.”

Many neighbors are excited to see it formalized for public use, Mitchell said.

“It’s going to be be a real jewel in our neighborhood here and Rabbit Creek Community Council area,” said Anne Rappoport, co-chair of the council.

During a November meeting, the council voted in favor of a resolution supporting the project, its latest step in over two decades of advocating for the conservation of Potter Marsh’s watershed, she said.

Potter Marsh Watershed Park has long been a “bucket list” project for Great Land Trust, which was founded to conserve and steward lands and waters in Southcentral Alaska, Kazary said.

Several mountain streams flow down through the property, feeding Potter Marsh’s south end with more than 75% of its freshwater, Mitchell said, while Rabbit Creek on the northern end of the marsh flows through the area to Cook Inlet quickly.

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