Stimulus funds flow into Alaska's national parks

ALASKA: Denali, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, others will see improvements.

April 22, 2009 

The toilets should work better at Denali National Park and Preserve thanks to President Barack Obama's federal stimulus spending.

The Alaska regional office of the National Park Service announced Wednesday it is getting $6.3 million in stimulus money to start work this summer to replace that park's wastewater treatment facility and rehabilitate the sewage collection system.

Denali, along the George Parks Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, is the most popular road-accessible national park in the state.

Money to upgrade the plumbing is a portion of about $750 million going to nearly 800 park projects nationwide under the terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to the Park Service.

One of the requirements for getting funding under the act was that projects be ready to proceed almost immediately in order to pump dollars from construction jobs into the faltering national economy.

OTHER ALASKA PARKS

Alaska had only a limited number of projects that met that criteria. The Denali sewer work was the biggest among them, but a number of other, comparatively small projects were also given the green flag to proceed.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve west of Juneau will get $418,000 for summer work to prevent further corrosion of docks and other structures at the Bartlett Cove Marine Facility.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve east of Glennallen will get $340,000 to improve upon a primitive campground at Twin Lakes along the Nabesna Road on the park's wild north side.

Kenai Fjords National Park out of Seward will get $179,000 to clean up abandoned mine sites along the Gulf of Alaska coast to make them safe and protect wildlife habitat.

The ranger station at Anaktuvuk Pass in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on the edge of the North Slope will get $119,000 to install a wind turbine to generate power and a battery system to store that power.

And the Sitka National Historical Park, first established as a national monument in 1910, will get $22,000 to fund an effort by the Alaska Native Youth Partnership to rehabilitate aging park trails.

FOCUS ON JOBS

"We'll be getting these projects on the street quickly, and work will begin this summer. These have been high priorities for Alaska parks, and we are thrilled to be able to be moving on them," Alaska Regional Director Sue Masica said.

Agency spokesman John Quinley said the projects were culled from a long list of park maintenance and improvement needs in Alaska.

He expected the agency will see some more money coming for other work that needs to be done this year or next, but added, "this is it for the stimulus package."

To get stimulus funding, according to the Park Service, projects not only had to be ready to go in the upcoming construction season, they had to be able to "generate the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and create lasting value for the American public."

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar called the projects across the nation "an investment in America's future that will create jobs, stimulate the economies of local communities, and get our country moving again."

Citing a desire to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of projects, Salazar also announced people will be able to track progress on all of the projects at www.interior.gov/recovery/nps.


Find Craig Medred online at adn.com/contact/cmedred or call 257-4588.

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