Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is the largest National Forest in the nation. There are 144 public use cabins in the Forest, accessible by boat, trail, seaplane, and wheeled aircraft. Twenty-six are accessed by flight only, and may be in jeopardy of closure. “These cabins are a true treasure in one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” RAF Director Jeff Russell said.
Decreasing funding and the associated reduction of workforce has strained US Forest Service (USFS) resources, and the agency is examining ways to maximize return and reduce maintenance costs for these cabins, including decommissioning. To see the document “Sustainable Cabin Strategy, see: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd687218.pdf
We are asking RAF members to provide input to the Forest Service to help preserve and prioritize work on the fly-in cabins. The Forest is receiving feedback from one Facebook group called Tongass National Forest Cabin Users showing 758 members as of this writing. So far, the comments favor hike-in, boat-in, and drive-in cabins. Almost no one spoke of fly-in as a choice. “It is feared that the fly-in only cabins may become low priority and subsequently removed. This would be a huge loss for the aviation community,” Russell added.
Some suggested an Adopt-a-cabin-type program, or partnering with non-profit entities to support cabin maintenance. The RAF has an established Memorandum of Understanding with the USFS, and this could be a very useful tool toward cabin preservation.
The Facebook Group is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/235187413694818/
Submitted on July 31, 2020