Gift of Shelter Cove Tract from Lorna and Jack Stern Will Keep Fleming Creek Intact
A local landmark in Cordova is now forever intact.
Lorna Stern, following the wishes of her deceased husband Jack, has gifted the 112-acre Shelter Cove property to the Copper River Watershed Project (CRWP). The property comes with a conservation easement that will be managed by the Great Land Trust (GLT). It is located approximately 1.5 miles from downtown Cordova and contains abundant wildlife, a salmon stream, wetlands, and several undeveloped footpaths.
Shelter Cove’s early history is deeply rooted in mining. Development occurred as early as 1917 and lasted through 1928, all well before Alaska’s statehood. (Old mining shafts/tunnels can still be found on the property.) John “Jack” Stern and his wife Lorna purchased the Shelter Cove property in 1964 after many visits to Cordova for Jack’s work with pilot Merle “Mudhole” Smith. In the years following the purchase, the property became a popular camping spot for seasonal cannery workers, deckhands, and other transient squatters. At one time, Shelter Cove, also known as “Hippie Cove,” even had an unofficial “mayor.” Another local character, Gene Rosellini, was featured in John Krakauer’s best-seller Into the Wild. He lived in Hippie Cove for many years, devoting his life to an experiment to see if it was possible to live independently of modern technology.
Lorna says, “Maintaining the Cordova property in its natural undeveloped state is very precious to me and in memory of Jack. I admire the fact that CRWP assists in the education of young people in fish habitat restoration and watershed education in the Copper River drainage.”
This project, made possible by funding from the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, has been in the works for years and is a result of collaboration between GLT, the Stern family, and the CRWP. Lorna Stern is donating the property to CRWP with a conservation easement held by GLT, which allows for limited development on the property, such as the installation of education signs, camping structures, picnic tables, and foot trails. CRWP is a Cordova-based nonprofit, whose mission is to promote a salmon-rich, intact watershed and culturally diverse communities by forming partnerships for watershed-scale planning and projects. “We are so pleased to be trusted with the stewardship of this property that contains rainforest, wetlands meadows, and salmon stream corridor habitat all together – it’s a natural outdoor education setting. We plan to use the property for environmental education programs, to develop camping structures for visiting tourists, and to develop a trail to the Mt. Eyak ridge to expand the area’s trail network” explained Kristin Carpenter, CRWP Executive Director.
While the public will be able to access the property in the near future, it is currently still private and not open for use.