Feds push deal for Admiralty Island land

The U.S. Forest Service finalized a deal Thursday with Sitka urban Native corporation Shee Atiká, Incorporated, to return 6,077 acres of heavily-logged land on Admiralty Island to wilderness.

The deal marks the completion of a third phase in the multi-phase land acquisition to return 22,000 acres of land back to wilderness in and around Cube Cove, which lies 30 miles south of Juneau and 20 miles north of Angoon. With Thursday’s transfer, 79 percent of that deal is done. Previous acquisitions in 2016 and 2017 returned 12,033 acres to wilderness. A total of 18,110 acres of 22,000 have been returned to wilderness status to date.

When the purchase is complete, according to the U.S. Forest Service, it will be the largest transfer of lands from a private inholding back to the Forest Service.

Cube Cove lies on the west side of Admiralty Island, designated a National Monument in 1978. About a third of the Tongass National Forest is designated as wilderness, and the Kootznoowoo Wilderness area encompasses most of Admiralty Island. Wilderness areas are subject to special rules laid out in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan and the Wilderness Act.

Visitors to Cube Cove are now prohibited from engaging in commercial enterprise (except for outfitters and guides); from building permanent and temporary roads; using motor vehicles and motorized equipment (except motorboats and fixed-wing airplanes); using mechanized forms of transport (i.e. bicycles, wheelbarrows); damaging live trees; building structures and installations and landing helicopters.

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