Alaska Forest Fund
Alaska’s National Forests Provide Unforgettable Alaskan Experiences
More than 2 million people visit Alaska’s National Forests, the Tongass and Chugach, every year for a variety of outdoor recreation experiences like boating, fishing, kayaking, hiking, hunting and camping. Demand for outdoor recreation continues to grow in Alaska. Alaska’s $4.5 billion tourist economy supports over 12,000 jobs in Southeast Alaska alone. These outdoor experiences are not only important to visitors from outside of the state. Forest Service cabins, trails and other facilities contribute greatly to Alaskans’ quality of life, for both recreation and subsistence uses.
Alaska Forest Fund Helps Fill the Funding Gap
While demand for recreation continues to grow, federal funding to maintain National Forest System trails and cabins in Alaska declined more than 46 percent between 2004 and 2014. This lack of funding has led to a backlog of maintenance and improvement needs, and has resulted in restricted access in some places and overuse in others.
In response, the NFF and the Forest Service developed the Alaska Forest Fund to help address this issue and accomplish priority conservation and recreational enhancement projects. The Fund, led by the NFF, leverages federal funding with private support from corporations, foundations, individuals, and nonprofit organizations. The NFF then uses the funds to support local non-profit organizations or to hire contractors to complete the restoration projects.
For residents, visitors and companies, the Alaska Forest Fund is a simple, effective way to support Alaska’s National Forests. For nonprofit partners, local contractors and rural communities adjacent to National Forests, the Fund is a meaningful source of capital that will increase their ability to share in the stewardship of the National Forests.
Alaska Forest Fund Projects
Projects supported by the Fund are based upon the priorities of Alaska’s National Forests and determined through a process managed by the NFF. These projects include:
- building new or repairing existing recreation trails;
- improving access to subsistence areas or improving subsistence resources;
- restoring salmon or other wildlife habitat; and
- restoring public use recreation cabins.
Examples of projects that the Alaska Forest Fund has supported include:
Restoring Recreation Cabins
When recreating on National Forests in Alaska it is helpful to have a warm and dry place to stay that shields you from the unpredictable weather. Over the past few decades, the Forest Service built more than 170 cabins for the public to rent and enjoy all the National Forests have to offer.
However, due to reduced budgets, many cabins are in need of important structural restoration or replacement. Through the Fund we are working to restore 10 cabins on both National Forests with generous support from the Rasmuson Foundation. You can read about two cabins that have been restored by local organizations and contractors here and here.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
This project involves restoration of approximately 120 miles of the Iditarod National Historic Trail between Seward and Girdwood. Formerly a wintertime route for delivering mail and supplies during the gold rush, this National Historic Trail will be constructed for summertime hiking through the spectacular Kenai Peninsula on the Chugach National Forest. This project includes building miles of trail, installing trail bridges and will take multiple phases to complete. Check out our past support of this work here.
Alaska Youth Stewards
Alaska Native youth from villages in Southeast Alaska conduct conservation and restoration work on the Tongass National Forest to improve recreation areas, document cultural sites, and remove marine debris. The Fund has supported the youth getting outdoors and connecting them to their historic lands and culture through this program. Learn about the youth from the Village of Angoon participating in the Youth Conservation Corps program.
Shelikof Creek Restoration
Alaska is known for its abundant runs of salmon, however, in some locations past logging practices have degraded spawning habitat for this species, which is important to both locals and wildlife. This project improved habitat for silver (coho) salmon and steelhead on Kruzof Island near Sitka on the Tongass National Forest. The project was completed in partnership with the Sitka Conservation Society and The Nature Conservancy. Below is a video showing how the project was completed with a local contractor.
Trail Restoration and Improvements
The Fund has restored many trails so they reduce environmental degradation are more enjoyable for visitors to use while accessing both National Forests. Employing youth and recruiting volunteers to restore trails are often key components to each project. A few of trails that have been restored by the Fund include the Treadwell Ditch Trail, Wukuklook Beach Trail, Canoe Point Trail and the Ibeck Creek Subsistence Angler Access Trail. The Fund will continue to support trail restoration, as they are important ways for visitors to enjoy Alaska’s National Forests.
Become a supporter of improving Alaska’s National Forests through the Alaska Forest Fund! Let us know how we can involve you in this important work.
We are thankful for these supporters of the Fund:
- Rasmuson Foundation
- Juneau Community Foundation
- Edgerton Foundation
- Hecla Charitable Foundation
- REI Co-op
- Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation
- ConocoPhillips Alaska
- Skaggs Foundation
- Alaskan Brewing Company
For more information on how to support the Alaska Forest Fund contact Patrick Shannon, Pacific Northwest Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-407-2898.