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December 31, 2021 Karen Lewis

Message From Our Board President Jeff Samuels


This has been quite a year (once again) and I wanted to take a moment to share some appreciation with all of you as we approach 2022. While we’ve encountered some significant personal and community challenges and losses, we’ve had some bright moments along the way.

First of all: Lydia Jacoby!! What a hero for Seward- while I had absolutely nothing to do with her gold medal performance at the Summer Olympics, I am as proud of her as if she were my own family.

For KMTA, we were able to grant over $90,000 to non profits and other organizations doing good things for the KMTA communities in the midst of a global pandemic. The work in many cases is doing steady and persistent good, the kind that surpasses the immediate hardship of the moment. We offer funding and support for projects with a long horizon: improvements to historic structures, program support which invests in local youth, and trail signage, construction, and maintenance which improves access to the outdoors at a time where mental balance is so important.

KMTA also saw some changes and new events this past year including:

  • Improvements in increased funding from the National Park Service and the introduction of a bill by Senator Lisa Murkowski to reauthorize the KMTA NHA beyond 2024.
  • Incorporating a land acknowledgment into our meetings as an act of gratitude for the thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship of the area we care so much about.
  • In addition to another successful Mineshaft Grinder, we partnered with Chugach Adventures and hosted a new race event – the Spencer 5K Dash at the Spencer Whistlestop, a crowd-pleaser which engaged a happy group to run alongside the beautiful Spencer Glacier on a sunny afternoon.

  • The KMTA Trail Challenge took flight this summer as a way to encourage activity on our beautiful trails in the KMTA area.

  • The Anchorage Outdoor School ran a successful program this fall, as teachers, volunteers, and elementary school students shared time learning about their outdoor environment.

  • In October, we made the executive director transition saying bon voyage to Jessica and her family after three years in the ED role. Thank you so much for the time, energy and ideas you shared with this organization. With each change in leadership comes new opportunities to grow in different ways, and we are excited for Rachel Blakeslee to have the helm!

Thank you to all who are involved in the National Heritage Area. Your participation in grants, events, and programming is greatly appreciated! All the best to each of you in the coming year.


Jeff Samuels, Board President

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