A creek winds between forested hillsides

WLT Protects Cabin Sites From Development in Southeast Alaska’s Chuck River and Kootznoowoo Wilderness Areas

June 16, 2022 – The Wilderness Land Trust partnered with the Southeast Alaska Land Trust (SEALT) to acquire two inholdings: the Wheeler Creek 5 and Chuck River Bend properties, in order to protect their watersheds and the salmon, brown bear, and Sitka black-tailed deer that call them home. When our transfer of this land to the U.S. Forest Service 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.

Located south of Juneau, Alaska, on Admiralty Island, the Kootznoowoo Wilderness (“Fortress of the Bears” in Lingít) is aptly named, as Admiralty Island is said to have the world’s highest concentration of brown bears in the world – an estimated 1,600 bears. This is more than 1 bear per square mile of the island. The Chuck River Wilderness is also south of Juneau but on the mainland, and is bordered by the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. The Chuck River is a major producer of several species of salmon, but especially pink salmon. Both wilderness areas are located within the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States, and the largest intact temperate rainforest on the planet. The Tongass has sometimes been referred to as America’s Climate Forest, for its unmatched ability to mitigate climate change. It remains one of the most important forests in the world.

Despite its remoteness, residents and visitors can access these wilderness areas by boat or float plane, and often do. In fact, remoteness is often the draw for many people who end up building private cabins in such areas. Preserving the ecological integrity, size, and connectivity of these wilderness areas serves to provide a high level of resilience in the face of climate change, establishes secure habitat for native wildlife, and ensures the economic benefits of recreation and tourism for both residents and visitors of Southeast Alaska.

The Wilderness Land Trust, in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Land Trust, has now completed three projects in Southeast Alaska, including conserving the largest remaining inholding in the Chuck River Wilderness.

A heartfelt thanks to all our supporters and our partners – Southeast Alaska Land Trust and private donors – for making these acquisitions successful.