RAF Southeast Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest has motivated volunteers to help preserve some of the 140 US Forest Service cabins in the vast Tongass National Forest. Some are in jeopardy of closure due to perceived lack of use. “RAF volunteers delivered our USFS approved RAF informational letters throughout August, September and October to seventeen of these fly-in cabins,” DeFreest reports. He also provided the letter to Ward Air, Admiralty Air Service, and Alaska Seaplanes, Part 135 operators that offer transport for visitors to the USFS cabins.

Specifically, letters were posted at these cabins: 

Lake Florence Cabin 

Lake Kathleen Cabin

Young Lake South Cabin

Young Lake North Cabin

Turner Lake West Cabin

Turner Lake East Cabin

Lake Alexander Cabin 

Big Shaheen Cabin

Little Shaheen Cabin

Hasselborg Creek Cabin

Jim’s Lake Cabin 

Sitkoh Lake East Cabin

Patching Lake Cabin

Tanis Mesa North Cabin

Tanis Mesa South Cabin

Raven Cabins (Situk airstrip cabins)

Eagle Cabin (Situk airstrip cabins)

DeFreest had obtained approval for the letter and its distribution during Zoom meetings with staff of both the Forest Service Alaska Regional Office and the Tongass Supervisor’s Office. “We discussed volunteer partnership opportunities to preserve Tongass fly-In lake cabins, also,” he said. 

To raise awareness of the threat, DeFreest and his wife Kari hosted an “Open Hangar Social” barbecue in August which drew about 30 people from Juneau who are fly-in cabin users. “We want to thank donors Nolan Davis, and Chris O’Brien, as well as Harris Air Service for their generous donation. AOPA and the Alaska Airmen’s Association provided information and door prizes. 

Additionally, DeFreest provided numerous informal condition reports to the USFS district staff after cabin visits on Juneau, Wrangell, Sitka Ranger Districts and on Admiralty Island National Monument. 

Submitted on October 29, 2021


  1. Duncan Thomas on November 1, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Jeff, are there particular officials and contacts you believe writing to might be if help. Flying up the coast and staying in Eagle Cabin for two nights was a highlight among highlights of a month flying Alaska. I’d love to to share the joy with them. I saw your letter there! You have my contact details I believe.

  2. rod schrage on November 1, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    I am interested in volunteering to help maintain some of these cabins, I have a background of construction , and a willingness to donate my labor and skills.

  3. Peter Goldstern on April 6, 2022 at 3:47 am

    Hello, I am an enthusiastic fan of Alaska as the owner of a 180 hp Lake Amphibian and am planning on my 4th Alaskan trip this summer with many lakes and some strips on the program. Can you tell me how rough A69 & A70 strips are with my 6.00 x 6 tires and oleo struts. Prop clearance is not an issue as mine is 6′ off the ground.

    The infrequent use of the cabins is a shame and a result of the general decline of GA for which we can thank the past carelessness and arrogance of Cessna, Pipe and Mooney management. I can speak from experience, having spent many years ferrying new aircraft to Europe and Australia. Peter Goldstern SMELSES, Comm, A&P/IA

Leave a Comment