Thanks to receiving a Recreational Trails Grant, we have been able to begin working on a trail to connect the Lower Parking Lot to the Nature Center. The new lot has been great for providing additional parking and increasing safety (less people are now parking on Eagle River Road). It has also been instrumental in allowing people with disabilities to access the Rodak Nature Trail and Viewing Decks. They can now bypass the steep section of the trail that begins behind the Nature Center.
The new trail design and construction is spearheaded by Blaine Smith (with Alaska Trails) along with our staff trail manager Gus Gustafson. The original "sneaky trail" that existed in that location was used by volunteers to quickly access their cabins. The intent of the new trail is to make it as safe and easy as possible for those parking in the lower lot to reach the Nature Center. The large crib stairs with handrails is slated to be completed by mid-July.
We cannot thank our trail crew volunteers enough. So many of them have come out daily to help with the backbreaking work of digging and moving dirt and rocks. THANK YOU Jerry, Joe, Mike K, Mike, Pat, Sheri, Dan,Ruth, Daniela, Paul, Lyndon, Tom, Hank, Ruth, Kate, Betsy, Elaine and Marc.
The Salmon Viewing Deck has been rebuilt and ready to enjoy. In the next weeks we'll let you know when the contractors will be staining it. At that time it will need to be closed off for a few days.
What's still left? The interpretive displays are in design and production, along with additional benches. We hope to have a grand opening ceremony to honor all our business, foundation and individual sponsors in August or September 2022. We'll keep you posted.
Friends of Eagle River Nature Center
Gratefully Acknowledges the Generous Support
Of the Following Donors of the
2022 Reconstruction of the Salmon Viewing Deck
Major Corporate Sponsor
Major Individual Sponsor
Terry S. Lauck and Allyson Parker-Lauck
JD, Dana and Jacob Batove
Tom Iverson Family
Julie K. Jessen and John Clifton Passmore
Dore and Kevin Meyers
Bill Schmid and Sue Spyker
Stephen and Sarah Wright
Thank you to all our Dick Griffith Matching Donors and For the Cause Donors of 2021-2022 who contributed to this project. Special thanks to the State of Alaska for providing a legislative grant to make the reconstruction possible and to Golder Associates, Inc. and Dakota Drilling, Inc. for their geotechnical work.
The new Salmon Viewing Deck steel piles were driven into the ground a few weeks ago and the team from Kuchar Construction are doing a fantastic job on the decking. Below is a photo of the progress taken on 4/15/22.
We'd like to thank a few more of our financial sponsors who have helped make the new deck possible: The Gorm Family and Beth Baker. We are grateful to the preliminary pro bono work that was completed a few years back by Golder Associations (Andrew Daggett, Engineer) and Dakota Drilling.
We'll keep you updated of the progress.
Many thanks to our volunteer trail crew for keeping all the decks shoveled, the trails groomed and the cabin and yurts stocked with firewood. We love our trail crew!
Click HERE to read course updates emailed to racers.
MANY THANKS to Liza Sanden for organizing and administering the Eagle River Area Christmas Bird Count for over 20 years. Here is her report from the 2021 Count.
18 intrepid birders braved the cold and the threatened wind and actually had a pretty good day of birding (12 teams) and counted birds of 24 species (including count week birds)
Temps ranged from -15 to 0 degrees, winds 0-25 mph with clear skies.
24 species - including count week species.
Bald Eagles - 156 (including 16 immatures; this is likely an undercount but seeing immatures in the trees fringing the dump is very difficult. Note - 139 were at the Anchorage Landfill
Northern Goshawk - count week
Willow Ptarmigan - count week (lots of fresh tracks, but none seen Sunday)
Great-horned owl - 2
Rock Dove - 3
Downy Woodpecker - 19
Hairy Woodpecker - 15
Gray Jay/ Canada Jay - 10
Stellers Jay - 7
Black-billed Magpie - 102
Common Raven - 131
Black-capped Chickadee - 366
Boreal Chickadee - 45
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 30
Brown Creeper - 1
American Dipper - 4
Bohemian Waxwing - 12
Northern Shrike - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 10
Grey-crowned Rosy Finch - 22
Pine Grosbeak 170
Red Crossbill - 40 (repeat visitors, previously identified via photo and good views)
Common Redpoll - 230
Only the Black-capped Chickadee was observed by all birders. Magpies and Redpolls came in 2nd place, observed by all but 1 team.
Next year's Eagle River Area Bird Count will likely be on January 1., 2023 The Eagle River CBC is always on Sundays to get an accurate census at the Anchorage Landfill -- and has usually been first Sunday of January. Let me know if you have strong opinions on this. Next year will also be my 20th year as coordinator - and if there are folks interested in doing more outreach in up our numbers, recruit more younger, energetic birders also please let me know. I love birding, but recognize burnout on the administrative side of this. Many of our group have been doing this CBC for 20+ years.
Congratulations to Joe Hackenmueller, Ginamaria Smith, and Pete Panarese for their many years of volunteer service working on the trails, presenting programs, and sitting on the Board of Directors. This photo was taken by Colin Tyler on our volunteer appreciation/solstice ice lantern evening December 18, 2021.
Background: The Salmon Viewing Deck was built by Chugach State Park staff in the late 1980's using wooden posts, decking and railings. After assuming operations in 1996, Friends of Eagle River Nature Center maintained the deck as issues arose with the help of many volunteers and boy scouts.
During the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in November 2018, nearly half of the length of the deck suffered damage. If you walk out on the deck today, you'll find that the boardwalk is uneven, railings are split and some of the posts are jacked out of the water. Structurally, it will become unsound if not attended to.
With the support and partnership with DNR, AK State Parks, Design and Construction engineers, we are pleased to announce that FEMA funding is in hand for the design and construction of nearly half of the deck. Friends of ERNC has been raising funds for the remaining portion of the deck and as of 11/25/2021 we have almost reached our goal of raising $430,000.
We thank the following companies and individuals for their major financial support:
Local girl scout, Sierra Ellemberger, has been working for over a year planning, fundraising and implementing improvements to the Echo Bend Camping area. She has built benches, cleaned up brush with her troop members, and created a second camping area that backpackers can use complete with a food storage locker, fire ring, benches and clearing for tents. Echo Bend is located 3 miles from the Nature Center along the Historic Iditarod/Crow Pass Trail and is a popular spot for backpackers. Many thanks to Sierra for all her hard work!