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Online Fund-raiser Nets Nearly $50k for Erosion-control Project at Delta-area Park

Monica Gray/Alaska State Parks

Donors gave nearly $50,000 to an online fundraiser last month to help pay for a project to prevent the Tanana River from washing away the bank that runs along Big Delta State Historical Park near Delta Junction. Alaska State Parks will use the donations as a match for further fundraising to pay for a bank-stabilization project riverbank to prevent further erosion.

Alaska State Parks Superintendent Brooks Ludwig said Monday the online crowdfunding drive that ended late last month went well, but fell just a bit short its $50,000 goal.

“We’re at about $48,200, I think, at the last count,” he said. “And actually, the donations are continuing to come in.”

Ludwig says State Parks will continue to accept donations through February while the agency applies for grants and other funding to pay for work to stop the Tanana River from washing away more of the south bank that runs along the Big Delta State Historical Park. The Tanana cut deeply into the bank last summer after rains raised the level of the river to near flood-stage, and the high water undercut a bluff on which an historic cabin was located. The bluff collapsed to within 13 feet of the structure before State Parks jacked it up in August and moved it away from the river.

“We’re working to see what we can do with the state funding and the private donations,” he said. “Maybe we can leverage that for some federal funding for bank stabilization and some habitat work.”

Ludwig says 87 people donated to the cause, along with several private- and public-sector donors that kicked in big bucks and in-kind donations of materials such as boulders and “root wads.” Those are the big, gnarly bundles of tree roots that’re yanked out when land is cleared and that are useful in building aquatic habitat.

“If we can find some root wads, that’d be very beneficial because it’d be really nice to incorporate that in the bank restoration to preserve the salmon habitat there,” Ludwig said in an interview Monday.

He says engineers are surveying the bank now to develop a design for the project, which he says will get under way in the spring.

“We’re going to get at it in April, while the water is still very low,” he said, “and get in there and harden the bank before the water starts coming back up again.”

Editor's note: Alaska State Parks is working to set up an online method of collecting additional donations for the riverbank-stabilization project at Big Delta State Historical Park. When that's done, information on how to donate will be posted to the State Parks website and Facebook page, and will be available by calling the agency’s Fairbanks office at (907) 451-2705. In the meanwhile, Ludwig asks anyone who wants to give to the cause to mail donations to:
Alaska State Parks
3700 Airport Way
Fairbanks, AK 99709
re: Big Delta State Historical Park