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Forest Service closing cabins

Posted: November 1, 2013 - 12:02am
Some cabins, like the John Muir Cabin, get enough user visits throughout the year to support annual maintenance of the facility. But others throughout the Tongass National Forest see fewer than 10 users annually.   Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File
Some cabins, like the John Muir Cabin, get enough user visits throughout the year to support annual maintenance of the facility. But others throughout the Tongass National Forest see fewer than 10 users annually.

The U.S. Forest Service will be closing some of the 152 recreation cabins it manages on the Tongass National Forest due to rising costs and shortfalls in funding.

A press release sent out this week said sequestration and other funding shortfalls have decreased federal funding for Forest Service recreation facilities by 50 percent. Federal funding for cabins has shrunk from recent average of $2.1 million per year to $1.1 million this year. They project further reductions in future years.

That lack in funding also means that, due to a lack of maintenance, many little-used cabins have deteriorated to the point their condition is considered “poor” or “very poor.” The release said they would need “significant rehabilitation or even reconstruction to remain safe for use.”

While cabins on or close to the road system, like John Muir in Juneau or Starrigavan in Sitka, are frequently booked between 100 and 270 nights per year, 21 cabins were booked fewer than 10 nights in a year, the release said. Many of those are cabins that are accessible only by float plane or
helicopter.

“Managers aim to identify cabins that are underused, dilapidated, or otherwise unsustainable,” the release stated. They also hope to work with partners and volunteers to maintain cabins more
affordably.

The USFS is developing a “smaller, sustainable cabin program” currently in the works.

 

The Juneau Empire will explore this issue further in next Friday’s Outdoors
section.

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