The U.S. Forest Service says Zarembo Island is trashed with abandoned cars. The Wrangell Ranger District hopes to clean up the island with the help of the city and local tribe. 

Zarembo Island attracts Wrangell residents for camping and hunting. There’s a sizable deer population and plenty of road to explore. So folks barge over cars and ATVs to the Island to hit the roads.

There are 33 active, registered vehicles on the island. But last week, staff counted 73 vehicles near Roosevelt Harbor.

Austin O’Brien with the Forest service says many of these cars are littering the island.

“Some of them haven’t moved in years,” he said. “Some of them have vegetation or are completely blocked in.”

The parking in Roosevelt is not meant to be a dumping site for abandoned vehicles. These cars are unsightly, they interfere with brushing and other maintenance, and they take up parking space from people who actually need it.   

Plus, it could become and environmental hazard.

Chris Hatton is with the IGAP department of the local tribe. Her work is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. She said leaking batteries could cause some serious harm to the ground.

These environmental concerns are more apparent than ever, since the state had to ship tons of lead contaminated soil off Wrangell Island. The contaminated soil came from an old car junkyard and the state allocated almost $20 million to clean it up.

The Forest Service wants to notify delinquent car-owners and impound vehicles when needed.

The Forest Service hopes to partner with the city and local tribe to actually get cars off the island. Maybe the Forest Service and the city could share the costs of bringing a scrap barge to town. Maybe the tribe could help mitigate any environmental hazards the cars could be causing.

The city and tribe have not said what resources they’re willing to put into this project. But both are drafting letters outlining their intent.