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Agriculture Event to Promote Opportunities in Area Near Nenana Made Accessible by Bridge

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Alaska Division of Agriculture
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The state Agriculture Division is planning an all-day public event Friday to showcase the potential uses of more than 148-thousand acres of land westof Nenana that’s been made accessible by completion of a bridge over the Nenana River last year.

Friday’s gathering is officially called the Nenana Agriculture Education Day. But the confab also will feature presentations on several other potential uses of the land within the Nenana-Totchaket Project.

“We’re just trying to get as many entities and groups together just to educate the public and hopefully have some interesting hands-on demonstrations,” says Erik Johnson, a natural resource specialist with the state Agriculture Division. “If you’re interested in getting some firewood collected before these parcels are sold to the public, there’s going to be information from the Division of Forestry on getting a firewood-collection permit.”

For those who want to ride their ATVs back into the Totchaket, Friday’s event will include presentations on how to do so without trespassing or damaging trails or causing other problems, like introducing invasive plants species into the area.

“I see this as a chance for people to learn about recreational opportunities, but doing it in a responsible manner,” said Johnson, who’s the main organizer of the event.

For Alaska Natives who are thinking of partaking in traditional uses of the Totchaket, like trapping or berry-picking, or who may be interested in trying their hand at farming or ranching, the event also will have representatives of local and state Native organizations on hand.

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Credit Kris Capps/ Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Nenana Mayor Josh Verhagen speaks at the July 6, 2020 ceremony celebrating completion of the 450-foot bridge over the Nenana River. At left, Donald Charlie, former first chief of the Nenana Native Council, and Jessica Shaw, Nenana Native Association administrator, wait to deliver remarks.

“The Alaska Village Initiatives, the Alaska Intertribal Agriculture Council, and the Nenana Native Association is going to have some information on land-use permits for their land, which is adjacent to our project area,” he said.

Other agricultural presentations at the event will feature representatives of a local biomass venture, and experts from the Ag Division, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and the federal Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“Lots of people. Lots of good stuff.”

State and local leaders have for decades touted the agricultural potential of the Nenana-Totchaket. They say it has better soils and a growing season nearly two weeks longer than the Delta Junction area, the Interior’s an already-established agricultural area. But Johnson says the state hasn’t been able to promote the Nenana-Totchaket, because there was no ready access into the area – until last year, when the Nenana Native Association contributed $9.5 million it received in federal money to the city to help it finish a 450-foot bridge across the Nenana River. Johnson says that’s where the Nenana Agriculture Education Event will be based.

“Most of the agencies are going to be at the old boat-launch parking lot, which is adjacent to the new bridge,” he said.

The event gets under way at 10 a.m. You can find out more about it by going to the Agriculture Division’s Facebook page or website.