The 5.4-million-acre Chugach National Forest in southcentral Alaska, America’s most northerly national forest, published a new Forest Management Plan in April 2020. Covering an area the size of New Hampshire, stretching from the snowy peaks of Prince William Sound to the Kenai Peninsula, the Chugach features spectacular coastal mountains with some of the best and wildest backcountry terrain in the world. (See below for video and image gallery from our ambassador Luc Mehl!)
The 2020 Forest Plan maintains current winter travel management on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai Winter Access Plan was hammered out in 2007 and continues to work well for both motorized and non-motorized winter recreationists, and we are fine with the Forest Service choosing to maintain the status quo in this regard. However, we’re concerned that the 2020 significantly waters down protections for the 1.9 million acre Nellie Juan-College Fjord Wilderness Study Area (WSA), located in the Prince William Sound.
The WSA was created in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). This truly wild and roadless landscape also includes the highest concentration of tidewater glaciers in North America, and we believe it deserves the highest level of permanent protection in the new forest plan. Unfortunately, despite strong public support for additional protections for the WSA, the 2020 plan fails to recommend additional areas within the WSA for Wilderness beyond what was recommended in the old (2002) plan, and it reduces or eliminates important management tools that are necessary for protecting the Wilderness character of the WSA and its potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
From new Wilderness recommendations to Recreation Emphasis Areas that focus on winter, there’s a lot backcountry skiers will like in this new Forest Plan—but there’s still work left to do to ensure wild places across the forest are protected.
https://winterwildlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Hyalite-Peak_PCross-photo.jpg686960Hilary Eisenhttps://winterwildlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/WWA_Logo_OrangeBlue-300x89.pngHilary Eisen2020-07-14 15:32:522020-07-17 09:59:37Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Brings Historic New Wilderness Recommendations
The epicenter of a tragic wildfire in 1910, the Great Burn has been left alone for a century of regrowth. Today, it is a recommended wilderness area along the Montana-Idaho stateline with an abundance of wildlife habitat. As the Forest Service rewrites the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Plan, the Great Burn needs continued protection.
https://winterwildlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/STC_0279-scaled.jpg19202560Winter Wildlandshttps://winterwildlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/WWA_Logo_OrangeBlue-300x89.pngWinter Wildlands2020-03-10 12:42:242020-03-10 13:28:28Wildlife, Wilderness, and the Great Burn