Photo by Bill Rusk

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/

To explore and reserve cabins on the Recreation.gov website, click here.

To contact RAF’s Alaska Liaison, email Al Clayton at aclayton@theraf.org

Submitted on July 31, 2020

9 Comments

  1. John Steffey on August 1, 2020 at 6:41 am

    The fly-in site are so limited and important to our group of recreation family members. These sites are so important to us but to the general public little or no impact. With all the millions of acres available please save these hard won natural areas.
    Progress is important but what good is living if one can not enjoy and save a portion of our natural environment!

  2. Eric Eriksen on August 1, 2020 at 6:56 am

    These cabins are some of the most incredible and enjoyable life experience You’ll ever have. If you haven’t visited them, then I recommend putting them at the top of your bucket list. They also provide emergency shelter when the weather changes fast, and it does. The closure of these cabins would be a huge loss for only the aviation community. Thank you RAF!

  3. Tiffany Snowden on August 1, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Please raise user fees to maintain them. I discovered one on a hike and thought, someday, I would fly in with my family. Please don’t take That opportunity away. It’s still a big wish of mine to do so.

    Thank you!

    Tiffany Snowden, Juneau Alaska

  4. Rob Stapleton on August 1, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Please save these cabins as is and keep the funding so fly-in users will continue to experience Alaska’s natural beauty. Additionally these cabins serve as a treasure as emergency shelters for aircraft and pilots in non-flyable weather.

  5. Terry Cartee on August 1, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Involve the Alaska Airmen and AOPA. (Tom George)
    We need all the help we can get.

    • JEFF RUSSELL on August 3, 2020 at 7:56 am

      Tom George and Adam White of the Airmen are involved. This effort is a collaboration of all three organizations.

  6. Sharaih Molyneaux on August 2, 2020 at 1:49 am

    Fly-in cabins are essential for Back Country Aviation in Alaska. Not only do the provide pilots on floats a way to get into the back country, they also provide shelter for a pilot in distress in the back country… either in coming to the aid of others or having shelter while handling mechanical issues. Recreational use is not the only purpose these back country fly-in cabins accommodate. Please consider the safety feature of having access to these cabins. They are a necessity and a blessing.

  7. Renn Nelson on August 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Those cabin s all of them and the fly in only are very important for many reasons I was using cabins early in life as I was born in southeast Alaska and I have wonderful memories and I learned a great respect for the needs of shelter in this vast region
    Next generation kids need to experience the natural habitat we cannot loose these precious experiences

    • William Lazarus on August 5, 2020 at 8:00 am

      Please keep these cabins! They are so unique to Alaska. A fantastic recreational opportunity, as well as a safe haven when the weather changes rapidly as it often does in the southeast.

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