VALDEZ, Alaska and LOUISVILLE, Ky., Jan. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In October 2019, The Port Valdez Company, Inc. (PVC) sold 184 acres of land, known as "Meals Hill," to the City of Valdez to become a conservation easement. The land will remain undeveloped and used as a protected wildlife habitat and public recreation area. The Great Land Trust facilitated the purchase of the property using Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) Trustee Council funds. The Port Valdez Company worked with Great Land Trust, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, the State of Alaska, and the City of Valdez to complete the transfer of the land. The City of Valdez will manage the new recreation area.
Meals Hill rises 351 feet out of Valdez Bay in the Prince William Sound, providing unparalleled views of the surrounding Chugach Mountains and the shipping terminal for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It contains an undisturbed coastal rain forest, home to bald eagles and numerous other wildlife.
The new Meals Hill Recreation Area is within walking distance of downtown Valdez, the Valdez Ferry Terminal and cruise ship dock, Civic Center Overlook Trail, and the walkway to the Valdez Small Boat Harbor. Visitors will be able to explore a mile of rocky coastline and wetlands in the low-lying areas. There is also a gravel road that leads to the summit of the property and provides access for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, bird and wildlife viewing, and berry picking.
Historically, Meals Hill was part of the Hazelet and Meals Homesteads that totaled more than 700 acres. In 1898, George Cheever Hazelet and Andrew Jackson Meals, left Nebraska for Alaska in search of gold. While little gold was found, both men were instrumental in the founding of the City of Valdez and development of the surrounding area—living an adventure that most men and women today only dream about.
After the 1964 Alaska earthquake, the strongest recorded earthquake in North America, the Army Corps of Engineers declared the City of Valdez uninhabitable. In response to this disaster, the descendants of Hazelet and Meals formed a land holding company -- The Port Valdez Co., Inc. -- to donate 110 acres of their land to provide a place for the City of Valdez to relocate. The damaged original town site is now known as "Old Town" and the City's current location, on former Meals/Hazelet land, is known as "New Town."
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled 10.8 million US gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska, the second largest spill in US history. The devastation affected 1,300 miles of coastline which led to the creation of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) Trustee Council to oversee restoration of the injured ecosystem. The Meals Hill property was designated high priority for conservation efforts and will permanently provide a protected habitat for impacted species, while also supporting tourism and recreation.
"Setting aside this property as a conservation and recreation area is a wonderful epitaph for these two visionary founders of Valdez," said John Clark, President of The Port Valdez Co., Inc. and a great-grandson of Hazelet. Mr. Clark currently resides in Louisville, KY. "Meals and Hazelet would be proud to know that their legacy lives on in the conservation easement, to be enjoyed by the community of Valdez and those curious enough to visit."
About The Port Valdez Company, Inc.
Today, 30 acres of PVC properties remain and are for sale in various stages of development, lease or partnership investment. Mr. Clark emphasizes that the next focus of development is a key 14-acre tract of land (Tract P) that is equally as majestic as the Meals Hill property and strategically located within walking distance of the Meals Hill hiking trails. It is ideal for a hotel retail space or much needed multi-family and single-family housing in Valdez. For more information go to their website https://portvaldez.com/
Learn more about the legacy: https://hazeletsjournal.com/
More on Valdez, Alaska: https://www.valdezalaska.org/
SOURCE The Port Valdez Company