Chugach Forest Plan Completed in April 2020
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.
Human Powered on the Chugach National Forest
Photos by Winter WIldlands Alliance Ambassador Luc Mehl