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Effort to expand Potter Marsh by 2 acres underway

  • Author: Mike Campbell
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published September 7, 2017

A pair of trumpeter swans stops at Potter Marsh on its migration south. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Anchorage's most-visited wildlife viewing site at Potter Marsh is looking to grow a bit.

The 564-acre marsh adjacent to Turnagain Arm is a magnet for birders, who may encounter trumpeter swans, tundra swans, red-necked grebes, northern pintails, arctic terns and other species amid the marsh's sedges. Moose, black bear, eagles, muskrats and salmon are also present from time to time. A half-mile of boardwalk allows for easy viewing.

Now, The Conservation Fund,  a national nonprofit organization, is trying to raise $72,500 to help purchase an undeveloped 2.2-acre parcel adjacent to the marsh, which is part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

The rest of the money needed for the purchase — $217,500, or 75 percent — would come from the federal government.

The parcel is located along the access road to the Potter Marsh, past a barn on the left side of the road heading toward the parking lot.

"It's cottonwood bottomland that's occasionally flooded — a greenbelt buffer for the marsh," said Joe Meehan of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "Right now, it's undisturbed. If we protect it, it will be what it always was."

Added Anchorage Audubon: "If not acquired and protected, the area could be cleared, filled and developed, significantly impacting the natural setting and visitor experience of the boardwalk and refuge."

The state Legislature must approve any deal.

Meehan says Potter Marsh attracts an estimated 150,000 people a year, peaking during the summer when tour buses make regular stops.

The Conservation Fund opened its Anchorage office in 1994.