Tongass Guardians: Documenting Alaska's Coastal Rain Forest

Documentary photographer Julie Denesha has created a new series of stunning images of Alaska's Tongass National Forest. The project -- Tongass Guardians -- was made possible through a U.S. Forest Service residency program for artists and writers called Voices of the Wilderness.

Denesha spent a week last summer with Forest Service rangers working in the remote 17-million-acre Tongass, the country's largest national forest, a place with more than 17,000 miles of salmon and trout-producing rivers and streams. Here the photographer describes her unique opportunity:

"I was very fortunate to have a chance to travel with two rangers working in Endicott Arm Fjord in the Tongass National Forest. In order to access and monitor the land managed by the forest service, the rangers patrol the waters in sea kayaks and small motorized boats.

Forest Rangers work on water and land to monitor the vast Alaskan wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. The largest national forest in the United States, the Tongass, covers most of Southeast Alaska. A part of that wilderness, Endicott Arm Fjord, terminates at Dawes Glacier and rangers make frequent visits to monitor flora and fauna, and track the retreat of the massive tidewater glaciers. It is a landscape that is changing rapidly. Since the naturalist John Muir visited Endicott Arm in 1880, Dawes Glacier has retreated dramatically in a sign of the planet’s changing climate. With increasing number of tourists eager to take a closer look at the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, the rangers also track the impact of tourism on the area and educate tour groups they encounter on the trail."

 Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program works to conserve and restore the Tongass' high-value salmon and trout watersheds. Learn more about TU's Tongass 77 campaign here.

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