Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion 
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on May 5 in Kenai.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on May 5 in Kenai.

Murkowski pushes to reauthorize heritage site

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is one of only 55 NHAs in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is working to reauthorize the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area through 2036, per a Monday release from Murkowski’s office. The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is one of only 55 NHAs in the United States and is the only one in Alaska. It was originally created through the Omnibus Lands Act in 2009, and is currently set to terminate in 2024.

NHAs are “places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape,” as defined by the National Park Service. Each NHA is created through an individual federal law and receives annual Congressional appropriations that generally range from $150,000 to $750,000, according to NPS. Other NHAs can be found in places like Nevada’s Great Basin, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Niagara Falls.

If passed, the bill — currently before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee according to Congress.gov — would mean the area would remain eligible for federal support through 2036. Communities in the area include Cooper Landing, Girdwood, Hope, Seward and Whittier and is managed by the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association. That association receives and administers federal funds to support locally initiated community projects in the heritage area, according to their website.

The association announced more than $90,000 in grant awards earlier this year for projects in the area that include, among other things, about $9,000 for the improvement and installation of interpretive signs at the Kenai Lake boat launch in Cooper Landing, about $3,200 for the Seward Chamber of Commerce to digitize historical records of the Seward Silver Salmon Derby and $8,800 for the creation of a cultural historical map of the heritage area.

“Reauthorizing the KMTA NHA allows for the continued opportunity for various stakeholders and locals to maintain Alaska’s only National Heritage Area,” Murkowski is quoted as saying in a Monday press release. “This place is special to Alaskans, and I’m proud to introduce legislation that will support Southcentral communities and our state’s tourism economy.”

Among the “places of interest” identified by the NPS in the heritage area are the K’Beq’ Cultural Site in Cooper Landing, Kenai Fjords National Park and the Iditarod National Historic Trail. The Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association is responsible for the development and implementation of a management plan for the area, in collaboration with people and organizations that have a role in the area.

The National Park Service specifically references the role the region played for Alaska Natives traveling along the corridor and along waterways, the Turnagain Arm Gold Rush and exploration of the area by people looking for a Northwest Passage from Europe to East Asia.

More information about National Heritage Areas can be found on the NPS website at nps.gov/subjects/heritageareas.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read