Funding sought for improvements along popular Alaska trail

KODIAK — A nonprofit organization that works to develop and maintain trails in southern Alaska is looking for alternative sources of funding to improve a popular trail in Kodiak after jurisdictional issues caused the group to miss out on grant money for the project.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Tuesday that the Kodiak Island Borough contracted with Island Trails Network in 2015 to make improvements to Saltery Cove Road, which provides access to subsistence hunting.

Andy Shroeder, the nonprofit’s executive director, said Thursday that the group was able to improve some areas after identifying problems with vehicle and water damage.

But permits to complete the work have been denied because parts of the trail are under jurisdiction of the Division of Natural Resources, which allows improvements only on state-recognized roads.

“I came in thinking we were going to do a lot of construction and the permitting would take about 30 days, and what this turned into was a years-long process of taking lands that are already public, but formalizing and basically increasing the level of survey . of these assets,” Schroeder said at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center on Thursday.

The Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant to fund the work expired in June.

“A lot of money was sent back, unfortunately, that could have been spent on a trail, which is heartbreaking,” Schroeder said.

He said the group is still looking to complete the work because of the importance of the trail, which extends to Saltery Cove from the road system at the American River.

“Saltery is important because it provides access to a number of different game species and fish species for people who live in Kodiak, so it’s very important for subsistence,” Shroeder said. “Your bag limit for deer goes from one to three and there’s no sex restriction after Oct. 1, so you can feed a much bigger family on deer if you go out to Saltery.”

The trail provides access to sockeye salmon runs, registration goat and bear hunting areas, and an off-road deer hunting area with increased bag limits.

Island Trails Network was able to complete work on the trail at some higher elevation areas. In low-lying areas, where trenching to move water off the path is not possible, the group had planned to harden the road using synthetic materials and sediment from creek beds to prevent vehicle tires from damaging the soil.

The nonprofit plans to apply for additional grant funding under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and the State Recreational Trails Program later this year, Schroeder said.

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