Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion 
Visitors walk toward the grand opening and dedication ceremony for the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden Trails near Soldotna on Sept. 8.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion Visitors walk toward the grand opening and dedication ceremony for the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden Trails near Soldotna on Sept. 8.

Peace crane garden organizers share update at assembly

The trail network is part of a Community Trail Management Agreement with the borough

Organizers of the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden said during a project update delivered to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday that they will focus upcoming work on the front entrance to the trail.

The trail network is part of a Community Trail Management Agreement with the borough, which owns the land on which the park sits. The borough in the ordinance approving that agreement said planned use of the land complies with the borough’s 2014 Recreation & Trails Master Plan for the City of Soldotna, as well as the Kenai Peninsula Borough Comprehensive Plan.

Sarah Pyhala, one of the project leads, summarized during that meeting the work that’s occurred on the project over the last year.

Pyhala said that, within the last year, the organization has put in 2,700 feet of gravel surfaces, installed trees and benches and laid 2,400 cubic yards of soil along the edges of the trail. The benches, Pyhala told assembly members, are manufactured without metal to imitate traditional Japanese wood joining.

The group in September held a grand opening ceremony for the trail network, where a sculpture of a sandhill crane created by artist Christina Demetro was also unveiled. Pyhala said the xylophone that makes up the crane’s wings has seen a lot of use since it was installed.

“The xylophone in the wings is something that attracts a lot of people,” Pyhala told assembly members. “There are several people from the immediate community that go every day and play the xylophone. There are several teenagers that every day go and walk the trails and play the xylophone. It’s just kind of something that’s been drawing people in.”

In the coming year, she said the group’s hope is to prioritize work on the entrance gate to the trail network. That’s in addition to better defining the trail borders, installing signage and expanding the group’s volunteer and member base. Pyhala said that more than 305 volunteer hours went into the garden trails last summer.

The project, touted as Alaska’s first Japanese public trail, has roots in ginkgo seeds that Pyhala and her husband received in 2018. The seeds were harvested, uncontaminated, from the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Those seeds later sprouted saplings and inspired the garden’s purpose of restoring visitors’ physical and psychological being.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche on Tuesday commended Pyhala for the group’s efforts on the project so far.

“You and your group have amazed me from the first time you sort of talked about this idea,” Micciche said. “It’s just another example of the way incredible things can happen in our communities when people set their hearts to it and get people excited about a project.”

More information about the Peace Crane Garden Trails can be found at peacecranegarden.org. The trails are located 475 W. Marydale Ave. in Soldotna, near Soldotna High School.

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

Visitors look at a peace crane statue unveiled as part of the grand opening and dedication of the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden Trails on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Visitors look at a peace crane statue unveiled as part of the grand opening and dedication of the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden Trails on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

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