Afternoon on the coast

Afternoon on the coast

I took some time to take a break from the day and head over to Westchester Lagoon to catch the afternoon light.  If I were an ice skater, I would spend a lot of my time here in the winter.  Westchester Lagoon is a magificent wetlands resource in our city, nestled against the coast and near downtown.  It provides habitat to numerous birds in the summer, and wonderful recreational opportunities in the winter.  It is also an access point for the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, an 11-mile trail running along the coastal areas of Anchorage, including the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

Shortly after leaving the Westchester Lagoon, as you head south along the Coastal Trail, you will find the Fish Creek Estuary.  Fish Creek, originall called King Salmong Creek because of its historical salmon runs, provides a home to nesting Sandhill cranes, red fox, lynx, black bear, moose, nesting owls, birds of prey including eagles, beaver, muskrat, and other small mammals.  It also serves during high tides in the summer as a feeding area for beluga whales just offshore in Cook Inlet.  In 2002, the Great Land Trust acquired an of easement that preserved this significant wetlands in the coastal area and its important habitat.

For the last several years, the Municipality of Anchorage has been working on the Chester Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project, designed to improve fish passage to help restore and sustain the natural run of salmon in Chester Creek.  Westchester Lagoon is the terminus of Chester Creek.  This has included the installation of a culvert underneath the raised track platform for the Alaska Railroad, a fish weir, and a channel leading from Westchester out to the Cook Inlet.  Prior to the completion of this project in June of 2009, the outfall for Chester Creek had been underground, beneath the railroad.

These are the kind of projects that make me very happy to have my real estate taxed.  (As I live in Anchorage, that is the only type of tax assessed against me – no city sales tax, no state sales tax, no state income tax.)  With as many wonderful natural features that Anchorage has, there are many locations, such as Chester Creek, that have been victims of development over the years.  Walking through the area even on a winter day when no salmon running still makes me happy to know that the salmon now have a chance once again to return.

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