Dreams of turning Valdez, AK into one of the world’s premier year-round mountain sports destinations took a positive step forward with the recent announcement by the National Park Service that Levitation 49 (L49) was awarded a Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program grant.
The grant means the National Park Service will partner with Levitation 49 (L49), a new non-profit sports commission, to guide the Valdez community through a process that will result in a master trails and recreation plan from Valdez to 50-mile on the Richardson Highway.
“We are extremely honored that the National Park Service sees the value of helping Valdez plan its recreation portfolio into the future and has put its trust in Levitation 49,” said Lee Hart, Executive Director of L49.
Across the nation, the RTCA program supports community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects. The renowned Chugach Mountains and Prince William Sound create an amazingly rich blank canvas for master planning the future of recreation around Valdez.
“Thanks to the support of the National Park Service and Alaska Region RTCA director Paul Clark, Valdez has this golden opportunity to develop a community-driven plan that will bring together thought-leadership and best practices for recreation planning, management and long-term economic and environmental sustainability,” said Nick Weicht, founder and President of Levitation 49.
Stakeholders vital to Valdez’ recreation planning process include, but are not limited to, Alaska State Parks, the United States Forest Service Chugach National Forest, Prince William Sound College, the City of Valdez elected and appointed bodies and departments, local and state non-profits, niche outdoor enthusiast clubs and private citizens.
As it strives to unite partners at the local and state levels, L49 continues to build a strong network of support among key national non-profits including the Outdoor Industry Association, American Alpine Club, Access Fund and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. L49 is the Access Fund’s first Alaska affiliate and is on track to become IMBA’s first Alaska chapter.
“Partnering with allied national non-profits and leading outdoor and bike industry companies whose missions align with ours is the best way forward for L49 and Valdez,” Hart said.
ABOUT LEVITATION 49. L49 is dedicated to economic diversification through the development and promotion of events and projects that support the mountain sports lifestyle in Valdez, AK. In all we do, L49 will engage in best practices for conservation, protection and stewardship of the natural resources that define Valdez.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE RIVERS, TRAILS AND CONSERVATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program extends and expands the benefits of the National Park Service throughout the nation to connect all Americans to their parks, trails, rivers, and other special places. NPS staff help community groups, National Parks, nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribes plan parks and trails, conserve and improve access to rivers and natural areas, and create recreation opportunities through locally led partnerships.