Parcel is Puzzle Piece That Fills in Conserved Land

Jan 8, 2021

The red dot is the 40-acre Steffensen parcel, considered the final piece to the central Goldstream conservation lands "puzzle" which allows for continuity of habitat and trails across Ballaine Road.
Credit Interior Alaska Land Trust

The open space corridor in Goldstream Valley, north of Fairbanks, got more land added to it this year. A citizen conservation group, the Interior Alaska Land Trust, acquired two big chunks of land, preserving them from development and adding to a public trail system.


Frank Steffensen built a little cabin in Goldstream Valley in 1984. He lived there while he got his electrician’s license and worked on the North Slope. His mother had homesteaded the property in the 1960’s after the family drove from the lower-48 in a station wagon.

“I was 11 and my sister was 9.”

Although the family didn’t live on that land much, his mother ended up leaving it to Frank and his sister, Christina Dix.

The land, very close to Goldstream Creek, was boggy and not particularly good for development.

“It seems every time I walked back in there to the creek, I always came back by a different route then when I went in, got lost half the time coming back. Because you have to go around the wet spots.”

Steffensen parcel.
Credit Interior Alaska Land Trust

Steffansen recognized that his land was near a patchwork greenbelt of state, borough and university land that stretches West to East along the old Tanana Valley Railroad route. He thought of approaching a local conservation group to buy his land to keep it wild.

It is crossed by trails, used year-round by hikers, birders and skiers. (sound of skier.)

The Interior Alaska Land Trust, or IALT, has been slowly acquiring private land in Goldstream Valley, either through outright purchase or having owners dedicate conservation easements of their property.

Guthrie: “I’m sure you know how beautiful Goldstream can be, when you walk down there by the creek, in the summertime, in June and July it is unbelievably beautiful.”

IALT president Owen Guthrie told members at their recent annual meeting about the purchase of the Steffensen-Dix parcel, which is easily accessible off Ballaine Road.

“This 80-acre parcel from Frank Steffensen and his sister, that’s the last piece of the 120-acre Homestead.”

Former Conservation Coordinator for the Trust, David Ruzicka, explains the parcel was like a missing puzzle piece among the protected land surrounding it.

Red line outlines the new acquisition by IALT on Ballaine Road in the Goldstream Valley north of Fairbanks.
Credit Interior Alaska Land Trust

”So, looking at a map, you can see the Goldstream Valley greenbelt; it’s right smack in the center. It is right on Ballaine Road. And there’s that big winter trail that traverses it and that crosses the valley too; you can link that up to other trails both to the east and to the west. So it’s a really high conservation priority for us. We were extremely excited that Frank was interested in selling that to us and having it conserved.”

The Trust was able to buy the land, mostly through donations, and will organize volunteers to work on the parcel this summer.

Links to local maps:

https://fairbanksak.myrec.com/forms/6011_goldstreampublicuseareaeastwintertrails2019.pdf   

https://fairbanksak.myrec.com/forms/6009_bigeldoradocreeklooptrailmap2018.pdf

https://fairbanksak.myrec.com/forms/6012_cranberrytrailmap2018.pdf