Glennallen, Tazlina, Kenny Lake
The Copper Valley encompasses approximately 20,649 square miles and is bounded by the Alaska and Talkeetna Mountain Ranges to the north, Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and Canada to the east, Thompson Pass in the Chugach Range to the south and the Matanuska-Susitina borough to the west. This vast region includes the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountain Range, which has nine of the 16 highest mountain peaks in North America. The Copper River, one of the major rivers on the continent, has its headwaters at the base of the Wrangell Mountains and dissects the region, flowing 250 miles to the Gulf of Alaska near Cordova.
In the 2000 census, the region had a population of 3,120 up from 2,569 in 1990. The major population centers are focused in the Glennallen, Copper Center and Kenny Lake communities which are situated near the junctions of major highways or with access to recreational resources. They are also the major shopping and service centers for the area. Each of these communities has approximately 500 persons in their loosely defined boundaries.
Glennallen is the major commerce and administrative center, with major medical services, the Alaska public health service clinic, a library, the region’s largest two schools, and the campuses of Alaska Bible College, and Prince William Sound Community College. The Copper River School District and Ahtna, Inc., have offices in Glennallen. There are also offices for the Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development – Glennallen Job Center, Alaska State Troopers, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Glennallen.
Just south of Glennallen in the community of Tazlina are the headquarters for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and the main maintenance facility for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Copper River Native Association and the National Park Service have their main offices in Copper Center.
Kenny Lake is the agricultural center. Hay, vegetables and bedding plants are the major commercial products. Roughly 19 hay operations, ranging in size from 60 to 200 acres, produce high quality hay that is sold inside and outside the region. Some cattle and hogs are raised as well. A school, sawmill and lumber business, fur farm, feed and seed supplier, and construction companies are located in Kenny Lake. Much of the produce goes to Valdez and the Glennallen area. A limited amount goes to the Mat-Su Valley and elsewhere.
Other smaller communities in the regional planning area are Tolsona, Nelchina/Mendeltna, Gulkana, Gakona, Sourdough/ Paxson, Chistochina, Slana/Nabesna/Chisana, Mentasta, Copperville, Tazlina, Chitina, and McCarthy/Kennecott. Many are small and offer a remote lifestyle, with subsistence supplementing their livelihoods.