With help and support from the neighborhood, area skiers, and Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT), in 2004 the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation secured a match grant from the federal Forest Legacy Program toward the purchase of important recreation and forest land in the Baycrest area of the Diamond Creek watershed. The Baycrest trail system had been a popular recreation area for over 20 years, serving thousands of hikers, equestrians, and skiers including students dependent on nearby trails for cross-country ski racing practice.
The area includes habitat for coyote, black and brown bear, lynx, a wide variety of birds, and contains an important wildlife movement corridor along Diamond Creek. It is a moose wintering and calving area, and during spring and summer the upper meadows are a feeding ground for sandhill cranes.
Having helped to secure the match grant from the federal Forest Legacy Program, KHLT then set to work raising the matching funds through major grants from the The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Forest Service, the Rasmuson Foundation, and Pacific Coast Joint Venture; along with funds from Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Kachemak Bay Rotary Club, revenue from special KHLT events like the Highland Games, and individual donations from over 230 people with special help from Kachemak Nordic Ski Club.
With extreme perseverance and generous cooperation from partners through unforeseen obstacles, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust raised the matching funds to cover the purchase of a 275-acre parcel at the heart of the ski trail system from the University of Alaska, at a total project cost of over $750,000. The purchase was completed in July 2007, and KHLT transferred the property to the City of Homer to benefit the public. The City of Homer decreed that the land be used "for public purposes as park land in perpetuity" (City of Homer Ordinance 07-03).
The property is approximately 60% forested wetland supporting black spruce muskegs in low-lying areas and upland white and Sitka spruce, and has hydrologic importance to Diamond Creek, which crosses the parcel. This land acquisition added 275 acres of protected open space, wildlife habitat, and trails adjacent to the 360-acre State of Alaska Demonstration Forest and Shelley Gill's 77 acres protected by a conservation easement held by KHLT.
Kachemak Nordic Ski Club maintains more than 30 kilometers of groomed ski trails within the Diamond Creek watershed, making it the largest area maintained for cross-country skiers on the southern Kenai Peninsula. Maintenance of the ski and snowshoe trails supplements summer trail maintenance provided largely by Homer Soil and Water Conservation District for hikers, birders, and equestrians, providing a highly significant multi-use recreation area.