Alaska

The indigenous people of SE Alaska, the Tlingit, have referred to the Kootznoowoo Wilderness as “Fortress of the Bears”

A steep granite cliff plunges into the deep waters of Alaska's inside passage.

Comprising the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is a place filled with islands and salmon streams, where towering mountains sweep down into thick old-growth forest and granite cliffs drop into deep fjords Photo credit: Ingrid Ougland

Alaska Project Areas

The Trust is working to acquire the Wheeler Creek 5 and Chuck River Bend properties, totaling 33 acres, to protect their watersheds and the salmon, and brown bears that call them home.

Comprising the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is a place filled with islands and salmon streams, where towering mountains sweep down into thick old-growth forest and granite cliffs drop into deep fjords.

The Wilderness Land Trust has permanently eliminated the threat of timber, mineral or residential development on the largest inholding that remained in the Chuck River Wilderness by transferring it to the Tongass National Forest for permanent protection in spring 2021.

A Muskeg wetland in the Chuck River Wilderness. These wetlands tend to have a water table near the surface and the sphagnum moss forming in it can hold 15 to 30 times its own weight in water, making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species.

Threats to Alaska Wilderness

Located on either side of the Inside Passage south of Juneau, Alaska, the Kootznoowoo and Chuck River Wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest connect to more than 2.2 million acres of public land, including much of Admiralty Island and the Tracy Arms-Fords Terror Wilderness. The Kootznoowoo (“Fortress of the Bears” in Lingit) Wilderness was designated in 1980 and includes 989,922 acres. The Chuck River Wilderness was designated in 1990 and includes 74,876 acres, and is adjacent to the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness-totaling more than 648,883 acres.

Within the 2.2 million acres of public land, clusters of private lands left over from old mining camps exist, surrounded by designated wilderness boundaries. Management rules for these properties still allow timber and minerals to be extracted and cabins to be built.

Boats or float planes are used to travel through this largely roadless wild area. The size and connectivity of these wild lands filled with coastal rivers and muskeg wetlands provide a high level of resilience in the face of climate change that allow brown bear, salmon, mountain goats, wolves, and humpback whales to thrive. Several rural communities, including the village of Angoon and city of Kake, depend on the fish, shellfish, and deer in these wilderness areas for subsistence harvests.

Old mining equipment in the Chuck River Wilderness

We need your help to accomplish this goal

A total of $375,000 is needed to accomplish this goal. To date, foundations, donors and the Southeast Alaska Land Trust (SEALT) have contributed $260,000, leaving $115,000 remaining to cover the acquisition and transfer costs of this land acquisition and to support lands staff time and required due diligence to transfer each parcel.

The Trust is partnering with SEALT to protect this land, and invites our local, regional and national partners to join us in making a conservation loan to the Trust today.

Thank you for your consideration. With your generous support today, 33 new wild acres will soon be protected forever, safeguarding  the more than 2.2 million acres of public land they impact.


For more information, contact:

Brad Borst, President
206-397-5240 (c)
brad@wildernesslandtrust.org

Aimee Rutledge, Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist
415-606-5895  (c)
Aimee@wildernesslandtrust.org