Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Cabin on Zarembo now open to public


Submitted by the US Forest Service

The two-building cabin at Deep Bay is ready for rental by the public as of August 12. Located on Zarembo Island, the former administrative camp was converted last year for recreational use.

Last week a new public cabin was added to Wrangell Ranger District's list, with the U.S. Forest Service's administrative camp at Deep Bay converted into a two-building recreational site.

The cabin will be the district's 23rd, and its first on Zarembo Island, located about five miles to Wrangell's southwest. Due to its proximity and size, Zarembo is a popular destination for locals in the mood for activity, be it hunting, camping or taking the all-terrain vehicle out for a spin. The cabin is primarily accessible by two approaches, either bringing a boat up directly into Deep Bay itself, or else disembarking from the USFS ramp at Roosevelt Harbor, from which it is a quarter-mile trip up the road.

Ranger Bob Dalrymple explained the repurposing of the camp into a recreational facility meets several needs. It becomes one of a handful of public cabins accessible by road, a feature he said is often requested in public feedback. The popularity of one such site at Middle Ridge led the district to approach the local Resource Advisory Committee in 2014 to help find funding for a new public cabin.

The site at Deep Bay was chosen because of its preexisting administrative camp, which itself was no longer necessary to maintain. The decision to repurpose the site rather than decommission and dismantle it was in part one of a cost savings, which would have been greater than the $60,000 needed to convert the facility to recreational use. The Petersburg-Wrangell RAC sourced the funds through a Department of Agriculture program grant, and work on the site was undertaken last year.

Utility connections and other amenities were dismantled, with the basic buildings and limited amenities left for the camp site. Plans to furnish the two cabin buildings are in progress, with Dalrymple expressing an interest in working with the high school shop class to craft furniture, as students had done previously for Middle Ridge. In the meantime, users of the site are advised to bring camp chairs and sleeping gear of their own.

"We used as much of the existing cabin that we could," Dalrymple said of the work.

What's left at the Deep Bay cabin site are two primary buildings connected by covered decking, which can accommodate approximately 12 visitors. The ranger said the site's size would be unique within the district, opening up opportunities for reunions, group outings, and of course, hunting parties.

With the island's deer population, Dalrymple expects hunting will be a big draw for use of the cabin, both for sport and subsistence. Zarembo falls within the state Department of Fish and Game's third management unit, subject to all of its schedules, regulations and restrictions.

With the presence of designated trails nearby, the site is also a good destination for ATV users. For those who prefer to travel on foot, a number of camping opportunities are to be found along the surrounding shore line, and the trail along the shore of Snow Pass is reputed to be a great spot for watching humpback whales.

While work readying the cabin was completed last year, the intervening months have been spent registering the site with the USFS booking system at http://www.Recreation.gov. The Deep Bay cabin went live on Friday, and within only a couple of hours was already booked solid through November.

Presently, it costs only the $9 administrative fee to use the cabin, though a cabin use fee will likely be established next year. Dalrymple said the district will be pushing for a $75 fee on account of the cabin site's size and the range of nearby resources. Determining what to charge will be a lengthy process, going through an official public comment period before a rate is set. The process has not begun, but Dalrymple advised those with an interest to be alert for public notices in the coming months.

For more information on the site, its conditions and surrounding area, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tongass/recreation/.


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