Mat-Su Trails & Parks Foundation off and running
Written by Patty Sullivan Wednesday, 30 March 2011 14:37
MAT-SU—A new trails foundation in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough recently gained major momentum. On March 15, a roomful of trail supporters was pleased when the Borough Assembly unanimously agreed to reappropriate $100,000 to the Mat-Su Trails & Parks Foundation.
The new trail foundation’s role is to raise money and help the Borough construct trails. The non-profit is expected to raise 2 dollars for every 1 Borough dollar.
Another non-profit, Mat-Su Health Foundation, offered a $100,000 grant the same night to the effort.
"This is fiscal conservatism at its best. It's stretching the Borough's dollar three times farther," said James King, the Borough’s new Community Development Manager.
The newly formed trails foundation will build on the momentum the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has created for the establishment of a first class trails and parks system for residents and visitors to the area. More than 2,000 miles of winter and summer trails are in the Mat-Su. Both motorized and non-motorized trails will be priorities.
The foundation will conduct public engagement in all community councils to identify trail improvement projects for the next five years and provide project management for construction and coordination of volunteers working on local trails during the next two years.
In addition to the grant for the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation two additional grants were awarded to non-profit organizations that will build two trails. This included an $180,000 grant to the Mat-Su Ski Club for Hatcher Pass trails and a $100,000 grant from visitor accommodation taxes to the Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation Corps for construction of trails at Talkeetna Lakes Park in Talkeetna.
Interim Community Development Manager Jeff Dillon played a major role in the effort. “This is one of the highlights of my career,” Dillon said later.
The same night, Assemblymember Vern Halter spoke of the importance of trails. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 snowmachiners were on the Iditarod watching 62 mushers leave, and the week before on the Susitna 100 I don’t know how many bikers were out there. Mushers saw bikers halfway to Nome. It’s good business, it’s good jobs, it’s going to improve the quality of life.”
Assemblymember Warren Keogh called the idea informative and uplifting.
Assemblymember Jim Colver said the trails are in good hands and they go hand in hand with economic development.
Assemblymember Cindy Bettine said the creation of the trails foundation was one of the most exciting days as an Assemblyperson in her five plus years.
Photo by Mark Stigar. Nordic Skier Dave Musgrave, head of the Mat-Su Junior Nordic program, enjoying a trail with dog, Aries.