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Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass to receive upgrades through grant

Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 4:46 PM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:46 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced in a press release on Friday that the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation accepted a grant of $1.3 million to complete restoration and preservation work over three years at the Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass.

“It’s a gem in Hatcher Pass and something that is in bad need of repair,” Executive Director of Mat-Su Trails and Parks Wes Hoskins said.

Hoskins said that a few of the buildings within the park have been damaged due to the extreme weather conditions in the area as well as vandalism.

“You have broken windows, you got some spray painting, you have people just weirdly going into the buildings and just, kind of, wanton destruction,” Hoskins said. “... just kind of like, destroying structural parts of it and lighting fires now and then.”

The funding comes from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Executive Director of the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation Wes Hoskins said in the press release that the project had been in the work over the last six months. Hoskins said in the release that the National Park Service, State Historical Preservation Office and Alaska Department of Natural Resources worked together to submit the grant application.

“Independence Mine State Historical Park has been a draw for tourists from all over the world, and there is so much potential for providing a more profound visitor experience,” said Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Director Ricky Gease in the release. “We rely on partnerships with many non-profit and friend groups across the state supporting our operations and this is a shining example of how that partnership with MSTPF and the support of the Helmsley Charitable Trust will make an incredible difference for preserving this historic site.”

The release said that the foundation will coordinate with contractors who will then upgrade four buildings on site including the manager’s house, two bunk houses and the mess hall. The three-year project will focus on exterior areas of the buildings.

“This is a rare opportunity for the state to partner with MSTPF on a project of this scope,” Superintendent for the division in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Stuart Leidner said in the release. “We are grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting this project and look forward to sharing progress on this historic restoration project as it moves forward. The high level of these facility improvements have simply been out of reach for us with current funding. With MSTPF’s willingness to partner with us, we can make a real impact on this piece of our history.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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