After a year of planning the project and logistics with Seth Roseberry, Recreation Management Specialist with the US Forest Service in Ketchikan, RAF Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest organized a seven-day volunteer work party for maintenance at the SE Heckman Lake public use cabin. With the help of an RAF grant, the USFS had approved DeFreest’s plan, and the project was scheduled for late April. Seven RAF volunteers from around the country, including Michigan Liaison Rob Aho and Director Jeff Russell from Wisconsin, joined Roseberry and Forestry Technician Katie McCann completing repairs to restore cabin access for users with mobility challenges. Additional work was accomplished at the second USFS cabin on Heckman Lake and the cabin on nearby Jordan Lake.

“The teams worked as one integrated group without much distinction between us and them. It was awesome,” DeFreest’s wife Kari said, adding, “We also had great, professional support from our local partner, Misty Fjords Air & Outfitters.”

More effort than expected was required to reposition the dock that had been damaged by ice and forced to a high and dry position down the shoreline. Jeff Russell said, “Seth led the effort with a clear plan, common sense and remarkable bush skills. He came up with the idea to cut and peel hemlocks to skid the floating pier back into the water which was pure bush genius.” DeFreest was equally impressed and added, “Katie was also a joy to work with. Her common sense, demeanor and practical skills were invaluable.”

The workers completed additional maintenance to prepare the cabins for use. “Seth and Katie had done their research on cabin utilization and recent maintenance already accomplished at the old Heckman and Jordan Lake cabins, so that our volunteers’ energy and emphasis could be placed on filling those wood sheds and brushing trails. All told, the RAF was able to help manage not just one, but three cabins in the Naha drainage,” DeFreest added.

“I think we made a big impact on the cabins we worked on,’ Russell said. “True to the RAF way of doing things, we had a great time. Work got done, fun was had, and relationships were built.”

By Carmine Mowbray

Photos by Jeff Russell and Jeff DeFreest

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