by Mark Kaelke
TU Southeast Alaska Project Director
An important deadline is fast approaching for anyone who values public-use cabins, especially those in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. As you may have read, the federal agency that manages the Tongass is planning to close nine cabins within the Southeast rain forest. Officials claim that the cabins don’t get enough use and are losing money.
Tongass recreational cabins offer opportunities for both residents and visitors to experience the beauty and solitude of America’s largest national forest and are a great base of operations for hiking, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor activities.
Although some of the cabins slated for closure experience low levels of use, the overall value of recreation cabins to the public at large is huge. And with their low cost of maintenance relative to the more than $20 million dollars lost on the Tongass timber program annually, one must question whether Forest Service priorities are in-line with those of American taxpayers on this issue. It seems allocating a little more federal funding for cabins and a little less for old-growth logging on the Tongass would be a better use of public money.