Are we losing our Forest Service cabins?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, May 26, 2006

In the 1960s and '70s, the National Forest Service started building public-use cabins for the purpose of allowing people a way to enjoy the national forests. That is what they have done. Every year thousands of people are given the chance to enjoy the beauties of Alaska with only a minor overnight charge. Nevertheless, the maintenance fees for these cabins are mounting, and the Forest Service is becoming less and less able to support the repairs for all of these wonderful cabins.

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We need to do something about it, or we will lose them one by one. The first cabins to be lost are the ones that only a few diehard fans use. The cabins that are only visited a couple dozen times a year. But does that make them any less important to the people that use it?

No. Someone needs to start thinking about how we are going to keep these cabins going. The only solution is for the community to step up and give a hand. The cost of maintaining one of these cabins for one year varies from $5,000 to $12,000.

That may seem like a lot, and it is. But spread amongst the caring citizens of Alaska it is a few dollars here and a few dollars there. I say it is well worth it to keep alive the tradition of the wilderness cabin. I imagine we could even get support from down south for these cabins. There are many organizations that ensure the upkeep of important buildings. This wouldn't be any different.

We must unite and start an organization intent on the maintenance, upkeep and funding of these cabins. These cabins are part of our heritage. I for one want my future children to enjoy them like I have. It would be a shame to lose even one of these cabins to decay. Don't be apathetic, don't make the mistake of thinking someone else will take care of it. This is something that needs all the help it can get, including yours. Just think about it, and call someone. Get involved.

Matt Mattson

Juneau



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