SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Local Project Advances to National Level of Forest Legacy Program


November 03, 2006
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Leask Lakes, located between Lake Harriet Hunt and the Naha River National Recreation trail, have been a long-standing conservation target for some Ketchikan community members. And now the project to protect Leask Lakes for future public use and a wildlife habitat corridor has advanced to the national ranking level of the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) according to Carrie Dolwick, the new Ketchikan Lands Coordinator.

Dolwick explained that the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is a nation-wide, cooperative program between the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the National Forest Service. The program emphasizes protecting and enhancing traditional forest uses, such as fishing, hunting, logging, hiking and wildlife viewing.

jpg Leaske Lakes

Leask Lakes
Photograph by Mike Sallee©

A group of Ketchikan area residents created the Leask Users Coalition and partnered with Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Cape Fox Corporation, and the Southeast Alaska Land Trust, to develop and submit the project to the FLP. The Leask Lakes project strives to increase pubic access and protection of wildlife around Leask Lakes and river with the purchase of a conservation easement said Dolwick.

The lands are currently owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust, and under contract for timber harvest. Alaska Mental Health Trust lands are not accessible for public use. The proposed easement will provide permanent public access to the lakes and river and protect 22% of the tract. This leaves 78% for timber harvest. There is also 400 acres within the proposed easement designated for restricted timber harvest. The easement protections will not interfere with any future expansion of the Ketchikan area public road system.

Previously, Alaska Mental Health Trust lands were not eligible for the program. Only due to the efforts of the Ketchikan's Leask Users Coalition and partners, have the lands now been made eligible.

jpg Leaske Lakes Properties

Leask Lakes Properties
Photograph by Mike Sallee©

"Community interests on Mental Health lands in Southeast Alaska parallel the goals of the Forest Legacy Program. A ruling of eligibility creates a significant funding source for communities to protect traditional forest uses." said Diane Mayer, Executive Director of the Southeast Alaska Land Trust."

Now, the Leask Lakes project is advancing to the national level for another round of ranking. If the lakes fair well in the national competition, and with lots of support from local Kethcikan residents and Alaska's congressional delegation, the Coalition's visions could come to fruition.

Eric Muench, timber contractor and volunteer with the Coalition, said, "There are several notable points to remember about the design and planning of the proposed easement. First, the protections would leave available for cutting, 90% of the timber on the tract or more than 3,500 acres. Permanent public access through a private parcel, where currently, the public has no access rights would be obtained. Finally, the easement protections would not interfere with the future expansion of the Ketchikan public road to connect with the Shelter Cove road system."

jpg Leask Lakes

Leask Lakes
Photograph by Mike Sallee©

In concert with the goal to purchase the conservation easement along the lakes and creek, the Southeast Alaska Land Trust and the Leask Users Coalition have recently received funding from Ducks Unlimited and the Pacific Coast Joint Venture (PCJV) to flag the proposed boundaries of the conservation easement.

Ducks Unlimited is the country's most successful wetland conservation organization, while the goals of PCJV include protecting and restoring coastal wetland ecosystems to benefit birds, fish and other wildlife.

The Leask lake project recently hired a new Lands Coordinator in Ketchikan. Carrie Dolwick will replace Laura Baker as the local coordinator for both the Leask Users Coalition and the Coast Guard Beach Working Group.

"Working on land issues in a place known for its abundant beauty and recreational opportunities is thrilling," said Dolwick. "My goal is to work with the local residents to plan for current and future land uses, to ensure the ongoing vitality of the area."



E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2006
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska