Forest Service to reconstruct Anan Bay cabin next summer

The Forest Service’s Anan Bay cabin, which was destroyed by a fallen tree in February, will be one of the first seven cabins built — or in this case, rebuilt — as part of the federally funded Alaska cabins project. Reconstruction on the cabin is scheduled for the summer of 2024.

The updated Anan Bay cabin will be in the same location, but with an altered design. “We had an engineer go out and determine that the cabin does need to be rebuilt, but the foundation can be used,” explained Dawn Collinsworth, Alaska Region deputy director for recreation lands and minerals at the Forest Service. “We’re going to expand the foundation a little bit to accommodate a slightly larger cabin.”

The rebuilt space will be 16 by 20 feet — about a 25% increase in square footage from the building’s previous footprint.

“Because we have the funding for many cabins across the two forests, we’re trying to create standard cabin designs,” said Collinsworth. “There have been building code updates that we need to comply with … we will, again, use the existing foundation but add to it. It gives a little more space in the cabin and it is a more efficient use of materials.”

The location was a priority for the Forest Service due to its popularity. During COVID, visitors booked the cabin around 60 to 70 nights per year. Pre-COVID, in 2016, those numbers were as high as 121. The cabin is one of the three most popular among the 20-or-so cabins in the Wrangell area, along with Middle Ridge and Berg Bay. “It really varies,” she said, but “it’s a very good usage.”

The project’s cost has not yet been determined. The Forest Service is “working closely with (the National Forest Foundation) to determine numbers and costs,” Collinsworth said. “We’re really excited to be able to use this funding to create great recreation opportunities for folks.”

The project was set up to repair existing public-use recreation cabins in national forests and build new ones. The project will last five years and include construction of 25 new cabins.

Three of the first batch of new cabins will be in the Chugach National Forest: at Porcupine Campground in Hope, Meridian Lake in Seward and Trail River in Moose Pass. There will also be three new cabins in the Tongass: at Mendenhall Campground in Juneau, Signal Creek Campground at Ward Lake and the El Capitan Interpretive Site near Naukati on Prince of Wales Island.

“This first set of cabins is only the beginning,” said Regional Forester Dave Schmid. “With $14 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and $3.7 million in matching funds from the National Forest Foundation, the plan to build two dozen or so allows us to build at least one cabin in each of our ranger districts.”

The fact that the Anan Bay cabin is being repaired doesn’t mean that Wrangell won’t be eligible for a new cabin as part of the five-year building program, explained Collinsworth. “We added Anan Bay to our list of projects, but it doesn’t otherwise affect what would be happening in Wrangell in the future,” she said. “I believe there will be another one coming.”

The Forest Service is considering nine possible cabin locations across the Wrangell and Petersburg districts. The preferred location for a new cabin in Wrangell is near Long Lake. The site is undergoing environmental analyses to assess the feasibility of putting a cabin there.

In October last year, the community was able to submit public comments on possible future cabin locations.

For the next five years, six or seven cabins will be scheduled for construction annually in Alaska.

“The goal of these new cabins is to provide the public with increased and safe access to Alaska’s National Forests,” said National Forest Foundation Chief Conservation Officer Marcus Selig. “These cabins serve as crucial infrastructure for recreationists of all kinds. Hunters, anglers, campers, Indigenous peoples, families and tourists alike use the cabins year-round to safely access public lands and provide shelter from the Alaskan weather.”

 

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