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Chugach National Forest

Katherine Fuselier

The Chugach National Forest is the world’s northern-most temperate rainforest and is home to rugged mountains, spectacular tidewater glaciers and mile after mile of undisturbed tundra and wetlands.

Unlike most National Forests, the Chugach does not have a significant timber industry with less than 2 percent classified as “suitable” for commercial timber. Communities do not depend on supplies of Chugach timber to sustain their economies, but rather rely on the forest for recreation and commercial fishing dollars.

Over 7 million people come to visit annually, pumping millions of dollars into Alaska’s economy. Kayakers and boaters cruise along tidewater glaciers, fjords and rookeries of Prince William Sound. Hikers and skiers travel the rustic trails of the Kenai Peninsula. Anglers flock to the world-famous Russian and Kenai Rivers. Birders enjoy the solitude of the Copper River Delta. These rugged lands and waters are also home to a remarkable array of wildlife, including wolves, brown bears, lynx, northern goshawks, harlequin ducks, orcas and sea otters. The Chugach supports some of the richest salmon runs on the planet, including the Copper River red salmon, known to connoisseurs around the world.

Ninety-eight percent of the Chugach is roadless and qualifies for wilderness protection under federal law, but Congress has never designated a single acre as wilderness. Instead coal and hard rock mining, oil and gas development, road building, logging and industrial scale tourism operations are having an impact on the wilderness and wildlife habitat.

The Chugach could be the Forest Service’s shining example of new management for the 21st century, where fish, wildlife and recreation are the top priorities. Sierra Club is working with the local community groups to fend off harmful oil, gas, logging and road building activities. Ultimately, we would like to secure long-term Wilderness designation for the Chugach so that this vast and wild forest will continue to nurture the Alaska spirit for generations to come.

To learn how you can help, contact Lindsey Hajduk at 907-276-4088 or lindsey@sierraclubalaska.org.

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