Fairbanks hotel buys land to create a wildlife sanctuary

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Commercial real estate developing companies don't typically buy land to turn it into a wildlife sanctuary, but that's precisely what Fairbanks' biggest hotelier is doing.

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Fountainhead Development, Inc. recently purchased 106 acres of prime real estate behind Wedgewood Resort, one of four hotels the company owns in Fairbanks, with the intention of turning it into a bird and wildlife sanctuary for its guests as well as the general public.

The Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary will include two large ponds in the form of retired gravel pits and a 1.5-mile wheelchair accessible trail that winds through the forest and around one of the ponds.

The land is adjacent to Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge and the trail system will hook into the Creamer's Field trails. The sanctuary will also provide a much-needed buffer between the resort and the mega-complex of box stores that has sprung up along the Johansen Expressway.

"We were concerned about preserving the green space around (Wedgewood Resort)," said Fountainhead Development, Inc. president Tim Cerny, explaining his company's reasoning.

The 26-acre complex off College Road is Alaska's largest hotel. Part of its appeal is that it is located adjacent to Creamer's Field. It will also shield guests from encroaching development on the Johansen Expressway, he said. The trail will be accessible from Wedgewood Resort or Creamer's Refuge.

"A natural area next to Wedgewood Resort will provide our guests an opportunity to enjoy a quiet walk in Alaska's boreal forest," Cerny said. "Many of our summer guests are part of tour groups, and having a sanctuary right out their front door will give them a rare opportunity to look for wildlife away from a bus, boat or train."

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