I'm writing this letter by candlelight on Sunday night from the Berners Bay cabin. We have explored the surrounding area for three days, having paddled here in our kayaks from Echo Cove. We make this trip twice each year - in May during the hooligan run and again in late September.
As usual the wonders of Berners Bay have not let us down. We've enjoyed strolling through expansive meadows filled with red, orange and yellow grasses and rimmed by golden cottonwoods. We've explored the wide sandy flats of glacial rivers crisscrossed with tracks of eagle, mink, brown bear and even coyote. We've climbed forested slopes in search of the alpine and the brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine there.
We've watched otters eating salmon in front of the cabin, Lapland longspurs running from our footsteps in thick meadow grasses, young salmon and toads swimming about in sun-warmed ponds. We've walked down a bear trail for over a half mile as it meandered through dense spruce forest carpeted with thick green moss.
Berners Bay, the mountains and forest that surround it, the rivers that feed it, is a remarkable place, home to so much beauty and wildlife and enjoyed by so many. During our stay, people in a dozen different boats plied the glacial rivers in search of moose. In the bay, boaters pulled crab pots and trolled for that last coho salmon of the year. As we left Echo Cove, a parade of children hiked the shoreline back from a stay at the Bible Ranch. Thousands of people enjoy this amazing place each year, whether from the state ferry, an air boat, a kayak, or a cabin.
As I finish this letter, the last bit of light fades from the sky. The black profile of Lions Head Mountain, crowned by a brilliant big dipper, looms large and jagged-topped through the picture window. Sadly, over one-half of this view, easily the best view from any Forest Service cabin on the Tongass, will be given away to private corporations in exchange for stumps near Ketchikan if a bill written by Sen. Frank Murkowski gains approval in the Senate.
If you love Berners Bay and don't want to see your public land become a clear-cut or a mine-tailings dump, don't bother Frank. He doesn't care what you think. Call Sen. Kerry's office (202-224-2742) instead and tell him Senate bill 2222 is a bad idea.