There are two fly-in public use cabins on Heckman Lake on Revillagigedo Island in Tongass National Forest, within the Ketchikan Misty Fjords Ranger District. They have fallen victim to deferred maintenance and seasonal damage, and due to limited USFS funding, were in jeopardy of being decommissioned. “Loss of these fly-in, and marine access cabins would result in the loss of a very unique remote recreational experience,” RAF Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest said. The one he refers to as SE Heckman is handicap accessible, with floating seaplane dock and ramps to get to the cabin and outhouse.

He was awarded an RAF grant for volunteers to clean, preserve, and improve the seaplane dock, ramps, and cabin. “Maintaining this backcountry forest access amenity provides shelter for recreational users, hunters, fisherman, and seaplane pilots, as well as emergency shelter for pilots and other backcountry users who may need shelter in survival circumstances,” DeFreest added.

He pointed out that the Heckman Lake cabins are relatively close to town, making them most affordable for people who charter a flight in, and the higher usage increases the likelihood that the USFS will be able to maintain the facility once damage and deferred maintenance are mitigated. DeFreest hopes this project leads to further RAF collaboration with the USFS. “A successful partnership on this entry level project can lead to future projects,” he said, in hopes of preventing the decommissioning of other public use cabins in the Tongass National Forest.

DeFreest has scheduled other maintenance, and has organized volunteers to help brush out around cabins and stairs, clean windows, refurbish the original cabin dedication sign and improve fire ring location and install an RAF fire ring.

Submitted on Febrauary 29, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray


  1. Paul V. Peterson on March 2, 2024 at 1:09 pm

    Would like to see updates on this project.
    Will RAF attend the Great Alaska Gathering in Palmer this May?

    Keep me updated on other Alaska projects.

    • Kodi on March 4, 2024 at 10:23 am

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, RAF volunteers will have a booth at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering in Palmer, AK in May.

  2. S Miller on March 24, 2024 at 7:33 am

    If the NAHA trail ever gets its rebuild, Heckman is also a great hike in cabin. Glad to see some of our cabins are getting much needed care!

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