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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Naha Devastation

By Mike Youngblood


February 10, 2015
Tuesday AM

July 1978 – that’s the first time I went to the Naha. Since that time I’ve gone there dozens of times, at all times of the year. I’ve been there on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, and everything in between. But never, until last weekend, had I seen it like this.

For those that don’t know, the Naha River empties out into Naha Bay in Western Behm Canal. It is a very popular destination for anyone cruising in the area for many reasons. There is a nice dock there, maintained by the US Forest Service, as is the trail that leads up into the forest. There is good salt water and fresh water fishing in the area. There is good crabbing & shrimping nearby, and terrific photo ops on the water and in the woods.

It’s not uncommon to see deer, bear, squirrels, otters, seals, sea lions, and birds of all sorts in the area.

And of course a mile or so up the trail is Orton Ranch, owned and maintained by the Baptist Church. How many Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Church groups, etc. etc. have had memorable trips up to Orton Ranch over the last many decades? Uncountable.

I tell people that my boat can find its way there on its own – I just say “Let’s go to the Naha” and off it goes.

But last weekend was different. I knew from reading an article on Sitnews a month or so ago that the ramp had been damaged by fallen trees, and that the USFS had made the decision to pull it out. They left the float, but pulled out the ramp. But I was not at all prepared for the level of devastation that I saw there on this trip.

Frankly it looked like a bomb had gone off in the area. There were dozens and dozens of trees down, and not just old rotten trees, but young strong trees as well. There were boardwalks damaged and destroyed, major portions of the trail obliterated by trees and branches and root wads. To their credit the USFS had come through with chain saws and cleared the worst of the worst, but even with that navigating the trail was a real challenge.

I walked up, or rather tried to walk up, the trail for only a couple hours before running out of daylight, but it was very difficult. I am used to a blow down here or there but this was at a whole new level.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Naha dock and trail – I suppose that is up to the US Forest Service, but I certainly hope that they can find the funding and the motivation to put it back into a serviceable condition. After all it’s a Ketchikan tradition.

Mike Youngblood
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received February 06, 2015 - Published February 10, 2015


Here are a few photos of the dock and the trail.

I think this must have been the scene of the crime. This is right where the ramp came down from the shore. Whatever took out the ramp also crunched the bull rail.

Sure looked strange to see the float not connected to shore.

This is the little hill just to the left of where the ramp went up to shore.
Mayhem. That must have been a heck of a windstorm.

This is what many portions of the trail and boardwalk looked like.

Healthy trees went right along with the old rotten ones.

Still in all, the Naha is a beautiful place to visit, and I’m going to keep going back.




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