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Monday, February 4, 2013
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Alaska Coastal Conservation Partnership to Receive Award
Anchorage -- Coordinated action to conserve coastal habitat in Southcentral Alaska has captured national attention. On Thursday February 7, 2013 at the Alaska Forum on the Environment conference held at the Dena'ina Convention Center, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for Alaska, Pat Pourchot, will present the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Coastal Conservation Partnership with a 2012 Coastal America Partnership Award on behalf of the Obama Administration and Coastal America.

Coastal America selected the Alaska partnership to receive this national award for its outstanding efforts to voluntarily conserve more than 6,000 acres of coastal habitat important to Pacific salmon and other wildlife. The Alaska-based effort is one of only four collaborative teams throughout the Nation to receive this prestigious award in 2012.

Coastal America (CA) was established in 1992 to conserve and restore coastal watersheds throughout the United States. CA protects the Nation's coastal resources by integrating federal actions with state and local government and non-governmental efforts to pool community and agency expertise to leverage voluntary conservation actions.

*"Obama Administration representatives from eight key agencies unanimously agreed that the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Coastal Conservation Partnership is worthy of recognition",* said Carli Bertrand, Program Coordinator with Coastal America. *"It is the only conservation award of its kind presented by the Administration."* Bertrand explained.

In 2010, the partnership formed a team of government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to design a method for assessing lands in the Mat-Su Valley for their salmon and habitat values. The assessment was completed by the Great Land Trust, an Alaska-based land trust, under a cooperative agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Trust used this assessment to contact landowners to gauge interest in voluntarily conserving their lands. A recent outcome of this effort is the completion of a 4,800-acre Knik River Islands Conservation Easement between Eklutna Inc. and the Great Land Trust. These lands provide excellent habitat for Pacific salmon, migratory birds and other wildlife.

*"We are honored to work with the Great Land Trust, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agency partners to protect key salmon habitat for our shareholders and the community, *said Curtis McQueen, CEO, Eklutna, Incorporated. "*We thank Coastal America for recognizing our contributions"*, McQueen added.

**

Numerous cooperating organizations participate in this partnership effort, including: Great Land Trust,

Alaska Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District, Eklutna Incorporated, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservation Fund Alaska, Alaskans for the Palmer Hay Flats, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Pacific Coast Joint Venture, Municipality of Anchorage, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership, and individual private landowners.

* "Alaskans care deeply about salmon and aquatic resources and depend on them for food and the economic health of their communities"*, said Pat Pourchot. "*Strong private-public partnerships are essential to future health and sustainability of fish and aquatic resources in Alaska and across the country*," Pourchot stated.
Contact:
Bruce Woods (907) 786-3695

David Wigglesworth (907) 786-3925

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