Alaska “Fortress of the Bears” Wilderness Needs Protection
March 25, 2022 – It’s been 30 years since The Wilderness Land Trust protected its first parcel of land. Nearly 25 years later we landed in Alaska, purchasing the largest remaining private inholding in the Chuck River Wilderness in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. The 154-acre Windham Bay parcel was transferred to the public for permanent protection almost exactly a year ago.
Together we are now working to protect more wilderness in Alaska. The Kootznoowoo (Fortress of the Bears) and Chuck River Wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest surround the Inside Passage waterway, connecting more than 2.2 million acres of public land. The size and connectivity of these wild lands filled with coastal rivers and rare muskeg wetlands provide a high level of resilience in the face of climate change that allow grizzlies, salmon, mountain goats, wolves and humpback whales to thrive. The Tlingit village of Angoon on Admiralty Island is home to more than 500 people. Several other rural communities, including the nearby village of Kake, depend on these wilderness areas for subsistence harvests.
Within the 2.2 million acres of public land, clusters of private lands left over from old mining camps exist, threatening the surrounding wilderness with the prospect of timber and mineral extraction as well as residential development.
The Wilderness Land Trust is now working to acquire two properties to prevent cabin development along Wheeler Creek and the Chuck River in the Kootznoowoo and Chuck River Wilderness areas, protecting the salmon, grizzly and black bears that call them home. When this work is complete, a total of 33 acres of new wild lands will be added to the Tongass National Forest and permanently protected from private development, safeguarding more than 2.2 million acres of public land they impact.
Please take the time to learn more about our work in Alaska and join our fight to save this extraordinary wilderness. If you’ve already joined our Alaska campaign, thank you for your support. We cannot do this work without you.