Land Donation Agreement Between United Companies, Inc., and the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation
(Anchorage, AK) - An important step in the continued development of the multi-agency South Denali Visitor Center project is a recent agreement allowing Alaska Department of Natural Resources to receive a 130-acre private land donation located within Denali State Park.
The donation is a public-private partnership with United Companies, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sea Lion Corporation, the village corporation for Hooper Bay. The $1 million UCI land donation will provide two critical features for the development of the proposed visitor center located near Mile 134 of the Parks Highway, according to Ben Ellis, director of the state’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. It will provide a safe and scenic access route to the South Denali Visitor’s Center, as well as ensure private development does not negatively impact the visitor’s experience in the area.
“It is another concrete step in bringing the vision of the visitor center into reality,” Ellis added. “When completed, the center will serve as a gateway to this remarkable area and serve as an economic stimulus for the surrounding communities.”
Gov. Sean Parnell has included $3 million in his capital budget to advance the planning for the South Denali Visitor Center.
Under the land agreement reached in November, UCI will donate 130 acres of a 160-acre parcel it owns within the park. The State and UCI have agreed for the use of the remaining parcel as a hotel site, and have agreed to cooperate for the advancement of this land use. This parcel will have restrictive covenants, held by the Department of Natural Resources, that guarantee any potential future development is compatible with the visitor center and surrounding parklands.
The South Denali Visitor Center is a critical component of the George Parks Highway Scenic Byway which was designated as a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in October 2009, said Ellis. This Scenic Byway establishes a comprehensive experience for travelers that include Fairbanks, Anchorage and the George Parks Highway corridor which connects the two communities. Other components of the George Parks Highway National Scenic Byway include facilities in Nenana, Denali National Park, Talkeetna and other locations along the corridor.
“We are excited to see this project moving forward, as it will serve as a compliment to the existing facilities in Denali National Park & Preserve,” said Paul Anderson, Superintendent of Denali National Park.
The proposed visitor center is a partnership project between the State of Alaska, the National Park Service and Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The three agencies have worked cooperatively on all stages of project planning to date, including a thorough public outreach program. An economic impact study commissioned in 2008 by the Mat-Su Borough indicated the projected economic impacts to the borough would be substantial. Among other economic drivers, the study projects approximately $30 million of private sector investment to occur in the vicinity of the new visitor center.
For more information, contact David Griffin, Project Coordinator for the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation at (907) 269-8696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.