Long before former CIRI President and CEO Margie Brown led the company, she was part of the team responsible for selecting CIRI’s land entitlements.
Her research went beyond viewing maps and analyzing resource samples. It also entailed schlepping her way through the Alaskan wilderness to determine the potential use and profitability of the land open for selection.
That trek led Brown and her team to the parcel on which CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp.’s (CATC’s) Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is built. Brown immediately recognized the land’s value, and it had nothing to do with oil and gas and mineral potential.
“We bushwhacked our way up this hill and it was at this spot that we saw Denali, and at that moment we knew this land would be a prime location for a lodge with trails for visitors to be able to explore Alaska at its finest,” said Brown during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge opened its doors in 1999. But this summer, close to 30 years after acquiring the property, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the completion of a trail on CIRI land offering scenic views of Denali, the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna River valley.
For the past three years, CIRI and CATC worked with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and sponsored crews of Alaska Native youth each summer to build the one-mile trail adjacent to the lodge.
Through collaboration with Cook Inlet Tribal Council, SCA was able to identify and recruit crews consisting of six to eight Alaska Native youth along with two SCA crew leaders.
Each year, the team spent 21 days living outdoors during the summer working on the trail. Members of the 2013 SCA crew, SCA board member Margie Brown, CATC President Paul Landis and other CIRI and CATC employees attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the completion of the three-year project.
“SCA’s commitment to Alaska to help Alaska youth learn valuable work/life skills and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment coupled with CIRI’s capacity to fund, has been a rewarding partnership. It is a wonderful experience to see the crews each year and the tremendous amount of work they have accomplished on CIRI land,” said Brown.
It is envisioned that the trail could be extended to connect to state trails bordering the property. According to Paul Landis, “Each summer, I had the opportunity to watch this trail being developed and watch the young crews learn new skills and take pride in their work. I look forward to continuing to work with SCA for there is potential for more partnerships in Talkeetna and near other CATC lodges.”
SCA’s programs also include internships for college students and community programs in more urban areas of the country. To learn more about SCA and view a video about SCA projects in Alaska, visit www.thesca.org or call (907) 274-8343.