Providing Public Access To Alaska’s National Forests
A partnership between the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and the USDA Forest Service will result in the renovation and construction of about 35 public-use cabins on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests as part of the Alaska Cabins Project, with the goal to provide greater access to outdoor recreation in Alaska.
An agreement between the nonprofit and the agency’s Alaska Region will use $13.9 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and another $3.7 million in matching funds to improve current cabins and build new ones. The initiative is called the Alaska Cabins Project.
Cabins serve as crucial infrastructure for recreationists of all kinds. Hunters, campers, anglers, and tourists alike use the cabins year-round to safely access public lands and provide shelter from the Alaskan weather. The Chugach and Tongass National Forests, combined, currently manage about 200 cabins that are available for public use.
“The goal with the new cabins is to provide the public with increased and safe access to the National Forests,” said National Forest Foundation Chief Conservation Officer Marcus Selig. “Many of the cabins on the Tongass and Chugach are in remote locations and not easily accessible to the public without a plane or boat. Many of the new cabins will be built near roads, within established campgrounds or via a short hike.”
“The goal with the new cabins is to provide the public with increased and safe access to the National Forests. Many of the cabins on the Tongass and Chugach are in remote locations and not easily accessible to the public without a plane or boat. Many of the new cabins will be built near roads, within established campgrounds or via a short hike.”
The NFF will work with the Forest Service to incorporate building materials for the cabins from local National Forests when possible and hire local contractors to complete the construction.
“Providing regional jobs and using local resources is important to us,” said National Forest Foundation President and CEO Mary Mitsos. “We take pride in collaborating with local companies and partners on the ground who can have a sense of ownership in this work.”
Together, the two organizations hope to create more opportunities to address recreation needs and increase community engagement across America’s National Forests and Grasslands.
“Supporting Alaska’s recreation economy is a priority for the agency. This partnership with the National Forest Foundation will not only increase the Forest Service’s capacity by adding more funding, but also strengthen local relationships and economies by engaging tribes, partners and local businesses. By promoting local workforce development, we are enhancing our connections with local communities and tribes.”
Input collected during a public engagement period last fall helped to name cabins in need of renovation and aided the Forest Service in identifying potential locations for new cabins and repaired or reconstructed cabins.
The National Forest Foundation is a leader in leveraging private funding to help maximize support for projects that conserve and improve our public lands. Since 2002, the NFF has raised and leveraged over $9.25 million to improve cabins, trails, campgrounds, and restore watersheds to improve salmon habitat on Alaska’s National Forests. In the past three years, the NFF has renovated eight cabins and constructed one new cabin on both the Chugach and the Tongass National Forests.
The Alaska Cabins Project is expected to continue over the next four years before the goal of 25 new structures and 10 updated cabins is realized. To learn more or make a contribution toward the fundraising match with the National Forest Foundation, please visit: Alaska Cabins Project