Kincaid Park in Anchorage, AK is an easily-accessible wilderness retreat for city-dwellers. Located just south of the airport, the 1,400+ acre site offers spectacular views, designated areas for motocross and archery, and scenic year-round multi-use trails that wind through forested hills and along the coast.
In June 2017, a Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) crew with the Anchorage Park Foundation – a member organization of the 21CSC – and Anchorage Parks and Recreation worked to help stabilize and reroute a popular bluff trail from Kincaid Park to the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.
“The trail is used by many people accessing the refuge for outdoor and wildlife-related activities and was subject to erosion. The trail erosion threatened to destabilize the bluff. The trail descended steeply and caused debris slides into the wetlands below,” said Joe Meehan, Land and Refuges Program Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “This project made access to the refuge easier for park and refuge users, and it assured protection of the wetlands.”
From June 12 – 15, a crew of 24 YEP members helped restore the trail using a practice known as “sidehilling” or “bench cutting.” The crew cut into the sandy hillside, creating a relatively flat surface for the trail.
Additionally, to prevent any further erosion, the crew installed 65 posts connected by 700 feet of rope railing. This new fence closes off an old “social trail” and encourages visitors to stay on the more sustainable sanctioned trail. The crew also installed over 300 plants, revegetating the slopes along the trail. The roots from these plants will help keep sand and soil from falling into the wetland.
“[This park] provides important wildlife habitat which is important to the community…this area is used for a variety of wildlife and outdoor activities, including wildlife viewing, waterfowl hunting, photography, nature study, and general outdoor activities, such as hiking and winter skiing,” said Meehan. “[Partnerships like this] help protect the wildlife and habitat resources we manage by directly conducting these types of projects, and also by developing community stewardship…[This partnership] puts local youth to work in the parks and refuge to develop their skills, and to promote their community stewardship ethic to help manage and protect park and refuge lands.”
Brad Fidel, Field Educator for Anchorage Parks and Recreation, stated that the YEP crew members walked away from this project not only with skills to prevent erosion, but knowledge about why controlling erosion is important.
“They learned trail building techniques and teamwork,” said Fidel. “They also learned about the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge and the importance of wildlife habitat.”
“I really love that I’m outside and I really like that I’m making the community a better place,” said Henry Joling, an 18-year-old crewmember. “We’re making Alaska even more beautiful than it already is.”
News reports on this project: