More than 13 acres of land on North Douglas now owned by Southeast Alaska Lad Trust and known as the Grummett Wetlands will be open to the public for passive recreation. That includes activities such as hiking, birding and exploring. (Courtesy Photo / Southeast Alaska Land Trust)

More than 13 acres of land on North Douglas now owned by Southeast Alaska Lad Trust and known as the Grummett Wetlands will be open to the public for passive recreation. That includes activities such as hiking, birding and exploring. (Courtesy Photo / Southeast Alaska Land Trust)

Local nonprofit acquires property near Mendenhall Refuge

Property now named for late board member.

More than 13 acres of wetlands near conservation areas have a new owner — but that’s not going to mean drastic changes for the North Douglas parcel.

Southeast Alaska Land Trust recently acquired land that sits between City and Borough of Juneau’s 108-acre Conservation Area and the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, the land trust said in a news release. The newly acquired property that’s visible from Glacier Highway will be known as the Grummet Wetlands.

“The acquisition of the Grummett Wetlands does not change any of the current uses of the land (i.e., wildlife habitat, recreation area, open space), and that is the point,” said Amanda Pilley, Southeast Alaska Land Trust communications and development coordinator in an email. “The change is that now these uses are permanent. There is no chance of development or any activity that would disrupt the conservation values of the Grummett Wetlands. This property, and all properties that the Southeast Alaska Land Trust has under conservation, are conserved in perpetuity.”

The newly acquired property is named for the late Mike Grummett, an early Southeast Alaska Land Trust board member and lifelong Juneauite, who died in 2016. Grummett originally donated the roughly 13-acre property to Earthjustice, which sold the property to the land trust.

Southeast Alaska Land Trust would not disclose how much the property was sold for. City and Borough of Juneau Assessor’s Office lists the site’s value at $161,400. The news release from the land trust announcing the acquisition said the land was purchased using funds received through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetland mitigation program.

“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the acquisition of these beautiful wetlands on the 25th anniversary of the founding of Southeast Alaska Land Trust,” said Jay Nelson, President of the Board of Southeast Alaska Land Trust in the news release. “It’s especially rewarding that the conservation of this parcel was the dream of Mike Grummett, one of our early supporters and board members.”

Conserving lands near the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge is a goal of Southeast Alaska Land Trust.

[Land trust acquires wetlands, but Field of Fireweed is poised for development]

Southeast Alaska Land Trust Executive Director Allison Gillum said in a phone interview that acquiring the specific lands, which are now the Mike Grummett Wetlands, had been a goal of the land trust since at least 2007.

Gillum said she is pleased the efforts came to fruition and it is a fitting tribute to Grummett.

The acquisition was praised by both Grummett’s surviving wife, DeeAnn, and the property’s former owners, too.

“We are grateful for the conservation vision and generosity of Mike and DeeAnn Grummett, and for the commitment of everyone at SEALT to bring that vision to fruition and ensure protection for this valuable habitat,” said Eric Jorgensen, Earthjustice Managing Attorney, in the news release. “This is another example of the great work the folks at SEALT do to benefit the people of Juneau and beyond.”

The wetlands will be free and open to the public year-round for passive recreation, according to Southeast Alaska Land Trust.

“[Mike] would be so pleased to know that the property will be available for public use,” DeeAnn Grummett said in the release.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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