A dock at the mouth of Anan Creek, which is fed from Anan Lake. The Forest Service is proposing tearing down the Anan Lake Cabin (not to be confused with the Anan Bay Cabin, which is in the same area but accessible by boat. (Sage Smiley / KSTK)

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday (February 24) that it’s proposing to replace the Anan Lake recreational cabin with one that’s on Wrangell’s road system. And it’s asking for public comment over the next month on the plan.

Anan Lake Cabin (W21) site. (Recreation.gov)

The cabin at Anan Lake is about 35 miles south of Wrangell and accessible only by floatplane. The Forest Service says if the cabin is picked for decommissioning, it would dismantle the structure and burn most material on site, but fly out non-burnable materials by helicopter. 

To replace the Anan Lake cabin, the Forest Service would construct a new cabin on Highbush Lake about 30 miles south of town, accessible by logging roads. 

U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Clint Kolarich says that accessibility is an important factor in developing recreational opportunities in Wrangell. 

“We’ve already heard a lot from our community about locations, and when we look at the Middle Ridge cabin, it’s by far the most used cabin and it’s because it’s on our road system,” Kolarich explains, “So we know there’s a demand – a pent-up demand to be more accurate – for accessible cabins. So the sideboards we’re putting on this are: reasonably accessible from a road system or from a boat. We want these cabins to be used.”

The plans aren’t set in stone yet. They’re currently undergoing environmental analysis as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Forest Service is asking for public input on the proposed new site, as well as the proposal to tear down the cabin on Anan Lake.

Forest Service recreation staff officer Tory Houser says it’s part of a broader push by the district to identify and lay the groundwork for other cabins that could be built or renovated with federal infrastructure money. 

“We’re looking carefully at new sites for new cabins. We just found out we’re going to get a big chunk of money being dedicated to Region 10 for that – we don’t know how much yet, but we know that it’s a really important earmark for one of these infrastructure bills,” Houser says, “So we’re looking at Berg Bay [Cabin] here in the Wrangell Ranger District and Breiland Slough Cabin on [the] Petersburg Ranger District for replacements.”

Forest Service proposed site for a Highbush Lake Cabin.

District Ranger Kolarich says that it’s important for the district to have projects in the works – by doing environmental assessments and soliciting input, so that if money comes from the government, Wrangell recreaters can benefit. 

“We’re not saying we’re going to build six new cabins,” Kolarich clarifies, “But we know that there’s money coming down through the infrastructure bill that’s for cabins.” 

The Wrangell Ranger District currently maintains 23 cabins throughout the district, only one of which is on Wrangell Island proper. Anan Lake Cabin – which the Forest Service is proposing to decommission – is one of the least-used cabins in the area, according to the Forest Service’s proposal statement.

Anyone wanting comment or to learn more about the proposal to decommission Anan Lake Cabin or build a Highbush Lake Cabin can call the district office at 907-874-2323 or contact Dee Galla with the Forest Service at dee.galla@usda.gov. There’s no hard deadline for input, but Forest Service officials say they’d like to have comments by March 24.

Get in touch with KSTK at news@kstk.org or (907) 874-2345.