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New boardwalk at local trail being built with municipal CARES Act funding

Alaska Trails Executive Director Steve Cleary points out a helicopter, delivering materials to complete a boardwalk along the Little O'Malley Peak Trail.
Alaska Trails Executive Director Steve Cleary points out a helicopter, delivering materials to complete a boardwalk along the Little O'Malley Peak Trail.(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 3:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A helicopter buzzed over Powerline Pass on Tuesday morning, making several short trips from the Upper Huffman Trailhead to the future site of an all-new boardwalk along the Little O’Malley Peak Trail. On each trip, supplies and tools were loaded and unloaded by crews at both sites.

Steve Cleary is the executive director of Alaska Trails. He says the new project, made possible by Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding from the Municipality of Anchorage, is part of a rerouting plan to create easier access to a nearby alpine area known as “The Ball Field.”

“This is quite a popular trail,” Cleary said. “The one it’s replacing is one that runs straight up through the gully, so It erodes quite a bit.”

The materials needed to build the boardwalk cost around $13,500. The use of a helicopter to adds around $10,000 to the total price tag. He says a CARES Act grant will cover those costs and hire an additional 11 workers to assist with the construction.

“This is a part of the public lands job program that the Anchorage Assembly passed,” he said. “We are very grateful. It’s a win-win situation to be able to employ people during hard times, and get something lasting for the community.”

Cleary compares the new route to project to similar work on the sunny-side of Flattop, which was done through a partnership between Alaska Trails and the Chugach Park Fund.

“That’s really proven to be a great place for people to get out,” he said. “They don’t have to hike straight up the mountain, but they can go up these switchbacks and have a more enjoyable experience.”

In phase one, Alaska Trails will work to complete the path up to the base of the northwest gully of O’Malley Peak. Next summer, the goal will be to complete the trail leading up to “The Ball Field.”

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