The sheer extent of Wilderness is one of the most defining features of the Tongass National Forest: at nearly 5,756,000 acres,19 Wilderness Areas account for approximately one third of the forest. They have some of the highest qualities of wilderness character in the nation, such as outstanding opportunities for solitude and absence of development.
Due to the unique relationship of Tongass communities to the land and the area’s long history of subsistence—the harvest and use of natural resources for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, handicrafts, and trade—the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) allows for some continuing uses in Wilderness Areas. These uses include special access by motorboat and airplane, public use cabins, subsistence activities, and temporary facilities for hunting and fishing.
The magnificence and scenic beauty of wilderness landscapes, along with their values as intact ecosystems, make these areas important for local residents, visitors, recreationists, scientists, and researchers. The Tongass National Forest is committed to managing these areas for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
On its 50th anniversary in 2014, the Wilderness Act will be celebrated in Alaska and nationally as a milestone in the conservation of the nation’s wild areas. The Tongass National Forest will provide opportunities to celebrate and reflect upon the long-term legacy of Wilderness.
Wilderness Briefing Paper
What Can I Do in Wilderness?
In 2014, the Tongass National Forest will join the nation in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
The 19 Wilderness Areas on the Tongass National Forest