Two Lesnoi lands may see a switch in property right ownership. The Great Land Trust, an Alaskan nonprofit involved in land conservation, made a presentation at the Kodiak Island Borough assembly work session last night to seek borough involvement in a possible rights sale of Termination Point and Long Island.
Lesnoi President and CEO, Jana Turvey, stood up to speak before the presentation began.
“The corporation was approached by the EVOS trustee council through Great Land Trust a few years back, and it’s a really hard decision as you can imagine as a private land owner about whether or not to engage either a sale or an easement of this nature with any entity. At the end of the day, we’ve come to the conclusion that we really do believe it would be a great partnership and a great working relationship with the borough to move forward with a conservation easement on both of these parcels.”
Great Land Trust Executive Director, Phil Shephard, explained the organization is working as a facilitator to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council in order to conserve lands that the 1989 oil spill impacted. He detailed the method of determining which lands to invest in – a process that works on a point system.
“What we did is we took a whole bunch of data layers and we aggregated those data layers to find where the properties across that whole spill area that have the best fit. Herring were really impacted by the spill, and the areas that have herring spawn are tracked by Fish and Game, so any parcel that had adjacent habitat to that also got a point.”
As another example, the group looked at areas with high numbers of bird species harmed by the spill. Shepherd said Termination Point and Long Island rank high, and he asked that the borough agree to hold the conservation easement to both properties.
“So your responsibility would to remain the conservation values of the property. What would be allowed on the property is basically what’s allowed there now, which is public access, trails, educational use, any kind of non-destructive use. You couldn’t cut all the trees down, you couldn’t mine it, you couldn’t things that would impact the conservation values.”
Lesnoi would retain certain rights, which include keeping any archaeological resources discovered there and the ability to put up signs.
Shephard said Long Island would be a slightly different case than Termination Point.
“The entire property would have a conservation easement. This area right here. It would not be available for public access, so Lesnoi would retain the right to potentially put some buildings there. It wouldn’t be open to the public, but they would be giving up their ability to harvest timber there.”
Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner said before she could support going forward, she would like to understand the project’s cost.
“And I know you said your view is this will be a long cost to maintain, but so far we haven’t heard at all what does that look like or what could that potentially cost and I mean, you’ve said the state can’t do it because of the budget – that’s what we heard –so to be expecting the borough to take that up, that’s a big thing.”
Shephard said he didn’t think the overall cost was the issue for the state.
“It’s just awkward for the state parks to say ‘sure, we’ll take more land over here in Kodiak,’ then if you’re down in some other district and they just lost staff there, it’s just politically challenging. It’s just the challenge of feeling like it’s tight times, and so they were feeling like they just weren’t comfortable doing that.”
Shephard did not mention a cost estimate, but explained they were at the beginning of the process and hoped for the assembly’s go-ahead before proceeding with negotiations. The assembly expressed interest in seeing the project on the agenda for its next work session, which is scheduled for September 24.