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A new organization is taking over Anchorage’s BP Energy Center as the oil company prepares to exit the state

was written by Tegan Hanlon, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage , 2020-02-12 02:01:15

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The BP Energy Center in Midtown Anchorage. (Hannah Lies/Alaska Public Media)

Oil company BP is not only planning to sell its pipelines and oil fields in Alaska as it prepares to exit the state, it also has pieces of its philanthropic efforts to hand off as well.

That includes the BP Energy Center, a popular building in Anchorage where nonprofits and educational groups can meet for free. It’s BP’s only big asset in Alaska that’s not included in the oil company’s proposed $5.6 billion sale to Hilcorp.

“That one we carved out so we could do something like this,” said BP Alaska President Janet Weiss.

On Tuesday, BP announced it will donate the BP Energy Center property and building to The Alaska Community Foundation. The foundation has agreed to maintain the center as a free meeting space for at least the next 20 years.

“Legacy is important, and it takes all of us working together,” Weiss said. “So finding a like-minded organization that believes in meeting space, and providing that to nonprofits, that’s cool.”

BP Alaska President Janet Weiss in her Midtown Anchorage office. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Weiss talked about the transfer on Tuesday from her office on the top floor of the BP tower in Midtown Anchorage, just north of the energy center.

Read our continuing coverage of the pending BP sale

The donation is the latest announcement related to BP’s proposal to sell its entire Alaska business to Hilcorp in one of the state’s largest oil industry deals. It provides another part of the picture of what Alaska will look like without BP — a large, long-time employer and major player in the state’s philanthropic sector.

BP will continue to operate the center until its pending deal with Hilcorp is approved, according to The Alaska Community Foundation.

Elizabeth Miller, a spokeswoman with the foundation, said it’s an honor to carry on BP’s legacy “by continuing to operate the BP Energy Center as a community meeting center for nonprofits and education organizations.”

As for the name of the building? Miller said don’t expect it to change. It’ll remain the BP Energy Center.

The BP Energy Center in Midtown Anchorage. (Hannah Lies/Alaska Public Media)

There also won’t be any cancellations or disruptions of scheduled events at the center, the foundation says.

BP says about 600 organizations have used the energy center since it opened in 2002. It’s upcoming events range from a breastfeeding conference to community council meetings to a sustainable agriculture conference.

The schedule also includes “Wildlife Wednesdays” hosted monthly by the Alaska Wildlife Association. The nonprofit’s free talks about bears, king crabs and seabirds wouldn’t be possible without the energy center, said Many Migura, the association’s deputy director.

“We don’t have a budget to pay room fees,” she said. “So it has been a really great experience centrally located in Anchorage with free parking a lot of folks like that. And it has enabled us to offer this as a part of our education outreach program.”

A BP fund set aside at The Alaska Community Foundation will be used to pay for the energy center’s future operational costs. The foundation is also managing Hilcorp’s employee giving program.

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a vacation in Alaska

Visiting the State of Alaska

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Alaska is a region in which responsible tourism and hospitality is essential.

Without much doubt one of the favorite excursions for visitors vacationing in Alaska is

Chugach National Forest. Only one third as big as Tongass National Forest, in Southeast Alaska, Chugach is nonetheless the second-largest national forest in the nation and an impressive combination of forests, rivers, lakes, mountains and glaciers. Approximately the size of New Hampshire, Chugach features a geographic variety that’s truly unique among national forests. The 5,940,000-acre forest is spread out across three distinct landscapes, stretching from the Kenai Peninsula east across Prince William Sound to encompass the Gulf Coast bordering the Copper River Delta, then east from there as far as the Bering Glacier. Wildlife is without question abundant particularly for those who take the time to walk far from the roadways and roads. Black and brown bear inhabit the majority of of the forest, foraging upon open tundra slopes and in intertidal zones. At the end of summer, bears may perhaps be viewed feeding on spawned-out salmon along streams and rivers. Record-size moose live in the Kenai Peninsula and the Copper River Delta. Dall sheep can be seen on Kenai Peninsula mountainsides, mountain goats tend to be found upon steep hillsides along Prince William Sound, the Copper River Delta and occasionally above Portage Valley. Boaters and kayakers in Prince William Sound may see Dall porpoises, harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions, Orcas and humpback whales. More than 214 species of resident and migratory birds occupy Chugach National Forest. Seabirds, which include blacklegged kittiwakes, nest in sea cliff colonies by the thousands. Ptarmigan scurry over alpine tundra, bald eagles perch on shoreline snags and Steller’s jays forage around the underbrush. The Copper River Delta protects one of the largest known concentrations of nesting trumpeter swans in North America together with the total population of dusky Canada geese. Nesting waterfowl are joined in springtime and autumn by countless numbers of migrating shorebirds. Chugach provides a variety of angling possibilities; anglers can cast for rainbow, lake and cutthroat trout as well as Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling and all five species of Pacific salmon. Many of the fisheries are simple to reach; roadside lakes and rivers abound providing anglers a chance to fish without needing a boat. Chugach’s most famous fishery is the red salmon run of the Russian River in which anglers are often standing elbow-to-elbow alongside the river bank in July and July. Chugach is one of the handful of spots left in the world where glaciers pour out of the mountains and into the seas. When combined with the Bagley Icefield from where it originates, Bering Glacier is larger than Switzerland. Columbia Glacier is one of the biggest tidewater glaciers in the world while Portage Glacier and its Begich-Boggs Visitor Center is one of the most popular stops for tourists within Alaska.

a vacation in Chugach National Forest in Alaska

Seeing Chugach National Forest in Alaska, America’s icebox