By Yereth Rosen
Alaska Beacon 

Land trust transfers Southeast property to Forest Service wilderness area


April 17, 2024

A designated wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest, the largest U.S. national forest, is now a little bit bigger, after a land purchase and transfer arranged by two conservation organizations. ‘

Five acres of land that was formerly privately owned has been added to the forest’s Kootznoowoo Wilderness area on Admiralty Island, one of the organizations, The Wilderness Land Trust, said in a news release issued on April 11.

The project, a partnership with the Juneau-based Southeast Alaska Land Trust, is the latest in a series of land purchases or conservation transactions aimed at preserving sections of the Southeast Alaska rainforest.

The 5-acre parcel, at a site called Wheeler Creek, on the northwest side of Admiralty Island, was purchased in 2022, The Wilderness Land Trust said in its announcement. The organizations worked since then to transfer it to U.S. Forest Service ownership.

The Wheeler Creek site is valuable for multiple reasons, said Margosia Jadkowski, director of marketing and communications for The Wilderness Land Trust.

It holds important salmon and wildlife habitat, and as part of an old-growth forest it absorbs atmospheric carbon, making it a buffer against climate change, Jadkowski said. When considering land parcels to buy for conservation, “climate resilience is definitely one of the functions we look at,” she said.

The Wilderness Land Trust is a national organization dedicated to purchasing inholdings — a term for private land within publicly owned, protected land — and transferring the property to public ownership for conservation. It has protected 586 properties over about 58,000 acres and began working in Alaska in 2017.

It has two earlier projects in Southeast totaling about 180 acres, both in the Chuck River Wilderness area of the Tongass, Jadkowski said. That property is about 70 miles south of Juneau, on the mainland at the head of Wyndham Bay.

The Southeast Alaska Land Trust has already preserved 3,600 acres of wetlands, recreation sites, wildlife habitat, open space and subsistence areas in the region, according to its website.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization.


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