SITKA — Sitka National Historical Park in southeast Alaska is looking to get the public’s support to move forward with a project to restore an area of the park that was the site of a battlefield more than 200 years ago.
The 1804 Tlingit-Russian battlefield on a peninsula near the mouth of Indian River has since been overgrown with trees and shrubs. The national park is now looking to clear out the brush to give visitors a better view of the water from the historic site, The Sitka Sentinel reported.
The battlefield restoration work falls under a park mandate to preserve and interpret the site.
Brinnen Carter, the park’s chief of resources, spoke about the restoration plan Wednesday at the first of two public sessions on the proposal.
“The fort and the ships that were moored off of Cannon Island were visible to each other during the battle and before the battle,” Carter said. “If there’s not really a visual connection through those two areas you have no way to practically imagine there areships out there. If you’re traveling out there on the water you want to be able to see the fort site for the same reason.”
The park used ground-penetrating radar last summer to determine the exact location of the Tlingit fort to be able to clear the view of the beach from there, Cater said.
“We’re very interested in authenticity,” he said. “We’re not interested in creating anything out there that wasn’t.”
Most of the smaller spruce and hemlock being removed between the fort site and the beach have only appeared since the 1950s. The trees that would be cleared are all from the 1970s, Carter said.
“In no case would we go into the area which is older growth,” he said. “Any opening or clearing would all occur in an area where the trees are from 1975 to present.”
Sheila Finkenbinder, who attended Wednesday’s presentation, said she was pleased with the plans for the restoration project.
“I love the idea,” she said, adding that it is frustrating not being able to see the ocean from the fort site.
The project has funding for the project this year, Carter said.
Another public meeting is scheduled at the park’s visitor center next week.
“We want to be sure the public is aware of it and in general agrees with both the process we’re taking to get the project done and the goals of the project,” Carter said.