The parking area at Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island.
(Courtesy Wrangell Ranger District)

The U.S. Forest Service’s Wrangell Ranger District is working to clean up a popular harbor parking area on Zarembo Island, about 15 miles southwest of Wrangell. But before restoring the site, officials need to figure out who owns the 70 or so vehicles parked at Roosevelt Harbor.

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Wrangell District Ranger Clint Kolarich says that over the years, the parking lot at Roosevelt Harbor has become an increasingly large problem.

“The actual grade of the area has deteriorated where the drainage isn’t really working the way it’s supposed to,” Kolarich explains, “And so what we want to do is restore the area so that the hydrologic function is more appropriate. So the drainage ditches are going to the catchment pond, the catchment pond is catching and the catchment pond drains in the direction that’s not right at the ocean.”

But it’s also a hard place to do major work. Zarembo is a popular spot for hunting, fishing and camping. So the parking lot is full of cars.

“It’s an important spot for this community. That’s the main entrance onto the island. It’s a place where folks can have vehicles there that they don’t have to ship back and forth,” Kolarich says.

The Forest Service wants to finish restoring the parking area before the deer hunting season starts on August 1. They’ll need people to move their cars stored at Roosevelt Harbor soon. There will be an alternate parking site just north of the harbor at Deep Bay.

“We want to get an alternative parking area set up that’s close by, we want to get the word out to everybody that if you have a vehicle that you want to continue to use out there, you need to move it over to Deep Bay no later than June 1,” Kolarich says, “And then the contractor can come in and do their work, whatever’s not moved as part of the contract will be removed. So that’s the tentative plan, and then the contract period would end by the end of July.”

To be clear, the dates aren’t set in stone yet. Kolarich says that in addition to the need to regrade and restore the site, the contract will make sure that the unused vehicles stored there are removed. It’s something the Forest Service has heard from the community about, he says.

“We would really like to know who’s attached to what vehicle – that would be helpful. And the community wants us to [clean it up]. We’ve received letters [and] a lot of concern from organizations and stakeholders across the community and the city itself about wanting to get that cleaned up,” Kolarich says.

He estimates there are 70 cars and trucks currently parked at Roosevelt Harbor. He thinks about 15 or 20 of those are abandoned: “Because they have trees growing through them.”

He says the Forest Service has been able to get in contact with the owners of about half of the remaining vehicles. 

Kolarich says that his office has been handing out special stickers to help connect car owners with the cars, so the Forest Service will be able to directly contact owners when it’s time to temporarily relocate vehicles. 

“We’re not worried about whether the vehicle is running or not running, we’re just trying to figure out [who owns which car],” Kolarich says, “Because the last thing I want to do is have the contractor haul off someone’s vehicle, unintentionally, that happened to still be running. So that’s what we’re working hard to avoid. But we can only do it with everybody’s help.”

The Wrangell Ranger District office told KSTK Wednesday (April 6) that the alternative site at Deep Bay isn’t ready yet, but that a contract for the project should be announced in the coming days. Vehicle owners should contact the Forest Service Office to get parking stickers or for more information about the restoration project. 

The Forest Service has completed the environmental review for the project to restore the parking area that’s required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Funding for the work will come from proceeds of the Frenchie Stewardship timber sale on Wrangell Island. 

That sale brought in about $480,000. The parking lot project is expected to use roughly half of that, according to Kolarich. The rest of the funds will go to other restoration projects in the area. 

Get in touch with KSTK at or (907) 874-2345.