Backside Baldy access closed as property owners weigh next moves

Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 14:42
  • Eagle River and the Fire Lake area as seen from the Wallace Mountain subdivision on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Some owners of a popular parcel of recreational land near Mt. Baldy have issued a letter rescinding recreational access, while others have listed their portion of the property for sale. The moves by Wallace Mountain Brothers and Stephanie LeProwse were expected after the owners of the land adjacent to Chugach State Park said last month they were planning to either sell or develop the land after failing to find a way to transfer it to the public.

“Wallace Brothers Mountain LLC is hereby suspending our free pedestrian permit program until further notice,” wrote Bill Tucker in a letter sent to property owners last week.

Tucker represents a group of investors that owns the former Til and Ella Wallace homestead near Mt. Baldy, while Stephanie Leprowse — Mike Wallace’s daughter — owns the other half of the property. Leprowse has listed her portion of the land for sale, Tucker said, and he’s decided that because of that the rest of the land should be off-limits — despite many property owners’ desire to keep it as recreaational land.

“It is possible that their buyer or buyers could support my preferred use of the land,” Tucker wrote. “However, until that time comes, we will be posting our properties against trespass and request that you honor our wishes in this regard.”

According to property records, the land is valued by the municipality at less than $1 million, but the owners have long said they think it’s worth much more and have tried to sell it to either the state or a third-party conservation group. However, those efforts have failed, and now investors have decided it’s time to sell.

Tucker wrote that’s not his preferred option.

“…first priority, for myself and the other original investor in our project, was to repurpose the subdivisions to provide community recreational use in conjunction with the Park, either commercially or by fair market sale to the State or Municipality,” he wrote.

An access road that crosses Eklutna Inc. land to reach the property will be closed. The road is used by hikers to reach the backside of Mt. Baldy and is a popular way to get down the mountain.

Brad Meiklejohn with The Conservation Fund said Tucker approached his group in hopes of the organization buying the land. However, Meiklejohn said there was little public support for the idea and his group doesn’t have the money to purchase the land outright.

“The reality is, I don’t see where the money would come from,” Mieklejohn said.

In the past, Wallace Mountain LLC has said the land could be worth as much as $6 million.

Although the land is closed to the public and now for sale, Tucker said he’ll continue to look for ways to get it into the public’s hands. However, it now seems likely the land will be turned into a private development.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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