Murkowski Introduces Bill to Reauthorize the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently introduced S. 2648, the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act. The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA NHA) is the first and only NHA in Alaska and just one of 55 in the country. The KMTA NHA was created in the Omnibus Lands Act of 2009, a bill Senator Murkowski championed, with the intent to preserve the area’s history, and to promote local recreation and tourism in Southcentral Alaska. Without this legislation, the NHA will sunset in 2024. Senator Murkowski’s new bill provides an extension through 2036, ensuring that the NHA remain remains eligible for federal support for years to come.

“The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area draws visitors from around the world. This is where mountains, glaciers, and communities meet the sea, creating not just breathtaking fjords, but also a location for recreation activities, educational opportunities, historic preservation, and more,” said Senator Murkowski. “Reauthorizing the KMTA NHA allows for the continued opportunity for various stakeholders and locals to maintain Alaska’s only National Heritage Area. This place is special to Alaskans, and I’m proud to introduce legislation that will support Southcentral communities and our state’s tourism economy.”

“This culturally rich area of Southentral Alaska is also a critically competent part of Alaska's state economy offering world-class fishing, hiking, skiing, hunting, biking, year-round employment, and supporting essential commercial and trade businesses. The work that KMTA NHA does to support these local communities, families, and youth is essential to protecting our rich history and beautiful landscape. KMTA's Community-Based Grant Program has provided over $1.2 million in funding for heritage area projects that has generated an additional $2.3 million in local funding to spur economic development, protect critically important historic resources, and provide support for local museums, historical societies, and youth programs. KMTA NHA's Board of Directors and our communities graciously thank Senator Murkowski for her support and for introducing congressional legislation to reauthorize KMTA NHA so that we can continue on with our good work now and into the future,” said Jessica Szelag, Executive Director of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area.

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area includes the communities of Cooper Landing, Girdwood, Hope, Seward and Whittier, and is managed by the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association. The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association has worked on the following:

Recreation Projects within KMTA NHA:

  • Girdwood Trails Management Plan
    • Partner: Girdwood Trails Committee
  • Trail Maintenance Workshops
    • Partners: Alaska Trails (lead), Girdwood Trails Committee, Chugach Forest Service
  • Hope Community Pedestrian Path
    • Partner: Hope, Inc.
  • Chugach National Forest Trail Work
    • Partners: Student Conservation Assocation (lead), Chugach Forest Service
  • Iditarod National Historical Trail Bridge
    • Partner: Girdwood Trails Committee
  • Cooper Landing Snug Harbor Pathway Beautification Project
    • Partner: Cooper Landing Community Club
  • Girdwood Mountain Bike Park Trails & Interpretive Signs
    • Partner: Girdwood Mountain Bike Association
  • Online survey of bicycle trails users’ behaviors and priorities (informal).
  • Google map of bicycle trails within KMTA and links to information
    • Partners: Mountain Bikers of Alaska, Cross Country Alaska Trails
  • Design of potential trail safety/etiquette sign for Resurrection Pass Trail
    • Partner: Chugach Forest Service
  • KMTA Corridor Trail Improvements

Education and Interpretation Projects Within the KMTA NHA:

The Anchorage Outdoor School allows Anchorage School District 5th grade classes to engage in the natural world to learn science, traditional ecological knowledge, history, physical education, career options, leadership, etc. Participants are transported from their school to Begich, Boggs Visitor Center in Portage, and stay there for two nights and three days for the Outdoor School experience.

  • This is Now and That was Then, Stories that Weave through the Eastern Kenai Peninsula documentaries narrated by Seward High School students, aired on public television
    • Partner: Alaska Public Media
  • Moose Pass Library Museum exhibit
    • Partner: Moose Pass Sportsman’s Club
  • City of Seward Waterfront Bike Path Interpretive Signs
    • Partner: City of Seward
  • Construction of Bison Hall Educational Building
    • Partner: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
  • Girdwood Summer Children’s Programs
    • Partner: Four Valley Community School
  • Hope Historic District Signs
    • Partner: Hope & Sunrise Chamber of Commerce
  • Community Murals
    • Partners: Seward Mural Society, artist Jason Leslie, Resurrect Art Coffee House, Girdwood Fine Arts Center, Girdwood Center for Visual Arts
  • Trail Lakes Hatchery Interpretive Video Installation
    • Partner: Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association
  • Publication of Gold Rush Wife by Dorothy Frost, edited by Dr. Rolfe Buzzell
    • Partner: Frost family
  • Snow River “Discover the Story” National Heritage Area sign
    • Partner: Alaska Department of Transportation
  • Ghost Forest Boardwalk Signs
    • Partner: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
  • Girdwood Town Square Signs
    • Partner: Girdwood Parks and Recreation, Anchorage School District
  • Alaska Nellie Interpretive Sign at Kenai Lake
    • Partner: Chugach National Forest
  • Moose Pass Welcome Sign
    • Partner: Moose Pass Sportsmen’s Club
  • Jujiro Wada Monument and Plaque commemorating Japanese musher and prospector, installed along Seward waterfront
    • Partner: Seward Iditarod Trailblazers
  • Continued collaboration with Iditarod Trail in Every Classroom (ITrEC)
    • Partner: Chugach Forest Service