Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi 2.0: Work starts on new trails

Through the fluorescent green of ferns and birch trees across from the Central Peninsula Landfill, Tsalteshi Trails Association Maintenance Manager Bill Holt has started work roughing out a new trail.

“I’ve been wandering around here a bunch,” Holt said as he followed a succession of pink flags attached to the trees. “If you think about it, if it’s a loop it is really never-ending.”

The pink flags lay out the first route within a new, multipurpose trail system located along the west side of the Sterling Highway, directly across from the landfill.

“We’ve been calling it the Slikok Trail System, not the Isaak Road Trails,” Holt said.

Work began on the new trail system late last week, with volunteers coming to help Holt clear out the woods and trees with an excavator, and leaving with wood to fuel next winter’s fires.

Holt said he hopes to have the first trail roughed out before he starts commercial fishing, with two main loops in the system completed by the end of August. Currently, he can be found in the excavator in the woods, carefully knocking down trees.

“The whole idea is to kill as few trees as you possibly can,” Holt said. “But you still need to have the trail go where it needs to go based on the terrain.”

The land, Holt said, is perfect for ski trails, but will be open to all types of uses. Currently, the plan lays out a core trail for multipurpose use and then, as the trail systems develop, more features such as a single-track trail will be added on.

“The idea is to make it so that anybody can come year round,” Holt said.

Currently, many of Tsalteshi’s trails are ski-only in the winter, banning walking, biking and dogs.

“If someone is walking over in Tsalteshi in the winter, instead of kicking them out we can tell them to come here and they can do whatever they want,” Holt said.

Holt said he’s enjoyed building the trail and finds himself walking through the land and tweaking the flagging each time.

“What we’re excited about is the terrain itself, all this glacial terrain” he said. “All the ridges and potholes … we’ll follow these contour lines but because of the rolling countryside the contours get to go up and down and all over.”

The area, which covers about 220 acres, was given to the nonprofit Tsalteshi Trails group through the Community Trail Management Agreement, which allows the association to develop and maintain the area into a trail system, while the land stays under borough ownership.

The land is part of a Refuse Buffer Zone, which brings with it a set of unique problems.

“The eagles like to fly trash over from the landfill,” Holt said. “The land needed better stewardship, it was just trashed out with plastic bags in the trees. So, that’s part of the idea too. Since we’re out here we’ll be cleaning it up all the time and trying to control the eagles’ appetite.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tsalteshi Trails Maintenance Manager Bill Holt explores the newest edition to the organization’s trail system, a parcel of land to the west of the Sterling Highway on Monday, June 19, 2017 outside Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

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