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Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
December 2004

Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge Adds 160 Acres

By Riley Woodford
caption follows
Palmer Hay Flats is a 28,000 acre refuge north of Anchorage. Photo ADF&G

An important parcel of land that provides one of the three primary access points to the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge is now officially part of the refuge.

“It’s a key parcel right in the middle of the refuge, and the department has been trying to acquire it for years,” said Anchorage wildlife biologist Joe Meehan.

The 160-acre parcel, known as the Cope Tract, is on the northern edge of the refuge along the west side of the Glenn Highway. A dirt road off the Frontage Road leads to an undeveloped boat launch on Wasilla Creek (also known as Rabbit Slough). The launch is important to duck hunters and anglers, providing access to coastal marshes and many areas of the refuge. Bird-watching and retriever training are also popular activities on the Cope property.

“There had been an easement allowing access to the slough, but this puts the land in department hands and protects it from development or uses that would not be good for wildlife,” Meehan said.

Palmer Hay Flats, located north of Anchorage at the head of the Knik Arm in Cook Inlet, is a 45-square-mile complex of forest, wetlands, tidal sloughs, lakes and tideflats. The 28,000 acre refuge encompasses the mouths of the Knik and Matanuska rivers. Marsh and bog communities predominate.

The state and The Nature Conservancy closed on the transfer of the tract in late October. This acquisition concludes a collaborative effort that began more than 12 years ago to acquire the property. The final purchase happened thanks to funding and support from The Greatland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, the State Duck Stamp fund, and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Wetlands Grant. The cooperation and assistance of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Attorney General's Office enabled the final transfer to take place.


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