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Denali State Park trails in Mat-Su highlighted nationally

Secr. of Interior highlights trails in Denali State Park Written by Patty Sullivan McKinley rising above Chultina River ValleyMAT-SU-Trails near one of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly's priority projects-the South Denali Visitor Center-drew national notice this week in a U.S. Dept. of Interior news release, as one of the best investments in the nation to create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.

In a soon-to-be released 50-state report, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar highlights an all-season trail system in the Denali State Park. "Developing an all-season trail system at Denali State Park and a water trail in Kachemak Bay are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report - two in every state - as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors," the Interior press release states.

The all-season trails will complement the South Denali Visitor Center.

The Borough Assembly has requested $22 million in Alaska Governor Sean Parnell's budget for the Visitor Center project. Last year Gov. Parnell put $3 million in his budget for the project.  "These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Sean Parnell and the state of Alaska, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders," the Interior release states.

The release continues "The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus - including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality."

Here is a link to the U.S. Dept. of Interior new release on Alaska projects.

The Borough has a partnership with the Alaska State Parks and the National Parks Service, to construct the South Denali Visitor Center and to enhance recreational opportunities in the Mat-Su Borough.

The South Denali Visitor Center is planned for the top of Curry Ridge near milepost 135 of the Parks Highway, which creates access to the south face of 20,320 foot Denali. The access road is planned to be open even when snow begins to fly. Revenues from visitors are projected to initially exceed operating costs by $1.2 million, according to the State's feasiblity study by the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development.

"Alaskans will be among the frequent visitors to this closer, primier destination. And the Mat-Su Borough will enjoy the benefits of new jobs and tourism spending," said Eileen Probasco, Borough Planning Chief.

An economic impact analysis, also by the University, forecasts visitor-related direct spending to exceed $18.4 million annually and indirect spending to reach $30 million annually.
 

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