M 17, 2006
Media Contact: Mark Armstrong, public relations manager,
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 406-523-3431, 406-370-2798 (cell)
Wildlife-Rich Coastal Habitat Conserved on Afognak Island
A public land purchase that
was five years in the making will ensure future elk hunting in Alaska by
conserving a critical parcel of wildlife habitat. The purchase permanently
conserves 4,400 acres of exceptional coastal habitat for Sea Otter, Kodiak
Bears and Roosevelt Elk in storm-sheltered Perenosa Bay, on the northern coast
of Afognak Island. Adjacent and nearby coastal lands totaling nearly 200,000
acres are already in public ownership, including Afognak Island State Park,
Shuyak Island State Park, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska
Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
Under terms of the $4 million purchase from the Afognak Joint
Venture (AJV), the land will be turned over to the Alaska Department of Natural
Resources and will be open to diverse public uses that range from hunting and
fishing, to whale watching and sea kayaking. AJV is made up of seven
Kodiak-area Native corporations.
“It is a great day when conservation meets the goals of a
landowner, a local community, wildlife agencies and the public, and the
Perenosa Bay transaction does all of that,” said Gale A. Norton, Secretary of
the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Perenosa Bay provides some of the Gulf of Alaska’s best sea
otter and marine mammal habitat, offering state and federal biologists optimum
chances to sustain these species,” Norton said.
Located about 225 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Kodiak
Archipelago, Afognak is home to the largest elk population in Alaska -- about
900 animals that grew from a small herd introduced in 1929. In recent years,
the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has teamed with state and federal wildlife
agencies and the AJV to study elk on the island. In 2000, the Elk Foundation
partnered with American Land Conservancy and the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust to
undertake the conservation project in Perenosa Bay.
“This transaction ensures that winter range for two herds is
maintained and that is great news for hunters who love to hunt the magnificent
Roosevelt Elk on the island, “said Steve Perrins, Alaska State Volunteer Chair
for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
“Securing this special place illustrates the Foundation’s
commitment to conserving habitat not only for elk but for other animals,” he
The Afognak area also provides spawning habitat for four
species of salmon and is prime nesting habitat for marbled murrelets and
harlequin ducks -- waterfowl species impacted by the oil spill from the Exxon
Valdez in 1989.
The three conservation organizations helped assemble the
federal and private grants to make the purchase possible. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service awarded $2 million in federal coastal wetland grants to the
Additional private funds matched the federal dollars and came
from Thoresen Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Paul Allen
Foundation, The Vital Ground Foundation, and the Johnny Morris Conservation
A substantial portion of the effort in support of this project
spanning several years was made by the Afognak Joint Venture members, which are
Alaska Native Corporations. State Senator Gary Stevens, former State
Representative Dan Ogg, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Kodiak and Homer
chambers of commerce also supported the effort.
Among the proponents of the multi-year effort is Afognak
Wilderness Lodge owner Shannon Randall who hailed the success. “This is a sound
investment for Kodiak tourism and the wildlife of Perenosa Bay,” says Randall.
“I’m glad everyone worked together. It will provide an incredible natural area
on Afognak’s north coast that will attract visitors to Alaska for generations
Dave Cline, chairman of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust said this
broad-based partnership effort in habitat protection represents another major
step forward for Kodiak brown bears, Alaska wild salmon and all who cherish
“It is fortunate that so many Alaskans recognize such
collaborative efforts as helping to sustain the Kodiak Archipelago’s
wildlands-based economy,” Cline said.
Headquartered in Missoula, Montana, the nonprofit Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation has permanently protected more than 1,000 square miles
of critical elk habitat and enhanced another 5,200 square miles of elk country.
In addition, over 400,000 acres have been opened to public access for hunting,
fishing and other enjoyment. To help protect wild elk country, visit
www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.
Founded in 1990, the American Land Conservancy is a private
non-profit land trust dedicated to conserving the landscapes that represent the
very best of the nation’s ecological, scenic, recreational, cultural and
agricultural resources. Through land acquisition, conservation easements and
land exchanges, ALC has completed 332 projects conserving 195,000 acres, with a
value of $541,000,000. For information on ALC, visit www.alcnet.org.
The mission of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust is to support
conservation of the majestic Kodiak brown bear through funding of habitat
protection, research and public education. For information, visit www.kbbt.org