The National Forest Foundation and USDA Forest Service partner in the biggest public-use cabin expansion in 50 years

August 1, 2023

JUNEAU, Alaska (August 1, 2023)/OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – The National Forest Foundation (NFF), in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, is working towards increasing public access to National Forests in Alaska by constructing seven public-use cabins as part of the Alaska Cabins Project. With plans to build a total of 25 cabins on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests, this project is the single biggest public-use cabin expansion in Alaska in 50 years.

Since 2002, the NFF has raised and leveraged over $9.25 million to improve cabins, trails, and campgrounds, and to aid in restoring watersheds to improve salmon habitats on Alaska’s National Forests. In the past three years alone, the NFF has renovated eight cabins and constructed one new cabin in Alaska. The NFF is committed to raising an additional $3.7 million in matching funds to build and improve public-use cabins through this venture.

The first cabin of the Alaska Cabins Project is already under construction and is located inside the Trail River Campground near Moose Pass on the Chugach National Forest in Southcentral Alaska.

Next year, two additional new cabins will be built on the Chugach: one at Meridian Lake along a section of the Iditarod National Historic Trail near Seward, and one at Porcupine Campground overlooking the Turnagain Arm near Hope.

On the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, four cabins will be built or reconstructed near popular destinations: the El Capitan Cave Interpretive Site north of Naukati, the longest mapped cave in Alaska; the Anan Wildlife Observatory near Wrangell, a popular bear viewing site; the campground at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau; and Signal Creek Campground at the Ward Lake Recreation Area in Ketchikan.

The Forest Service selected cabin locations based on public feedback and site accessibility. As opposed to many existing public use cabins in Alaska, which require a boat or float plane to access, most new cabin sites will be accessible by car or a short hike. Locations of the new cabins can be found on the National Forest Foundation website.

“For us it is all about listening first,” said Regional Forester Dave Schmid. “We heard from hundreds of people and these are just the first of many cabins selected because of public interest.”

To increase the local impact of this project, the NFF is working in tandem with the Forest Service to incorporate local lumber for the cabins from both forests. It will also hire local contractors to complete the construction when possible.

“A local company was hired to build the Trail River cabin and is using local spruce lumber from Seward to build the interior furnishings,” said Kenzie Barnwell, NFF’s Chugach Stewardship Coordinator. “This project will not only increase recreational opportunities throughout the Tongass and Chugach National Forests, but will also create local jobs, which is an exciting prospect for Alaska.”

To learn more or make a contribution towards the Alaska Cabins Project, please visit https://www.nationalforests.org/regional-programs/pnwprogram/alaska-cabins-project


Press Contacts:

Carolyn Auwaerter, Tongass Stewardship Coordinator, cauwaerter@nationalforests.org, 907-416-8975

Kenzie Barnwell, Chugach Stewardship Coordinator, mbarnwell@nationalforests.org, 907-416-1064

About the National Forest Foundation

The congressionally chartered National Forest Foundation promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, the NFF improves forest health and American’s outdoor experiences. The NFF’s programs inform millions of Americans about the importance of these treasured landscapes. Each year, the NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects, and disease, improves recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their National Forests and Grasslands. Learn more at www.nationalforests.org.