Deliver Benefits to the Public

Tongass partnership restores habitat, improves access for motorized recreation

Before and after views of the Twin Lakes trail section on Kruzof Island in the Tongass National Forest. Forest Service photo.

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — With support from the Sitka Ranger District and the Alaska Forest Fund, Sitka Conservation Society coordinated on-the-ground work to repair all-terrain vehicle trails at Twin Lakes on Kruzof Island – a recreation and restoration priority identified by the local community and the Forest Service. The project was conducted in partnership between CSC and the Tongass National Forest.

Todd Miller of TM Construction rides an ATV to access the Twin Lakes area on Kruzof Island. Forest Service photo.

Visible from the streets of Sitka, Alaska and known for the striking silhouette of the Mount Edgecumbe volcano, the uninhabited island of Kruzof is a public recreation and fishing destination. The Kruzof Island Trail system consists of old logging roads which have been converted to motorized and non-motorized trails following the completion of logging activities in 1970-80s. The trails also provide access to young-growth acreage for forest management projects including pre-Commercial thinning, wildlife thinning, stream habitat restoration, and outfitter and guide use. Over the past decade, several projects supported by internal and external funding sources allowed for upgrades and stabilization improvements to large portions of the Kruzof trail network. Twin Lakes was the last major portion of this trail system in need of restoration to improve use, safety, and protect natural resources.

Unmaintained ATV trails on Kruzof threatened both fish habitat and the recreation experience. Erosion had redirected streams straight down the trail and widened the areas where streams cross the trail, making them too shallow for fish to swim across. Old rusty culverts were too high off the ground and too narrow for fish to pass through them to swim upstream. The lack of a good trails restricted public access to key fishing destinations and fish access to upstream spawning and rearing habitat.

Working with TM Construction, a local contractor with years of experience and expertise in local stewardship projects on Kruzof and elsewhere, the SCS partnership completed work on the trails this summer.