A popular, remote dock on Zarembo Island might not be usable this summer. The Roosevelt Harbor dock, located about 15 miles southwest of Wrangell was severely damaged in a storm this past winter. The U.S. Forest Service has a plan to fix it, but it might not pan out until the fall.
People from around the Wrangell area flock to Zarembo to hunt, fish, and visit the recreation cabin on the island. But it may be a little tougher to access this year, says Tory Houser. She’s Wrangell’s acting district ranger.
“There was a big winter storm in December, and the wave action came into that tiny little harbor, Roosevelt Harbor, and those waves were so big that they buckled the dock and disconnected it from the gangplank completely,” Houser explains. “So right now the floating portion of the dock is over on land. And so we have a contract to get all those pieces either completely replaced with new things, or repaired.”
But to secure a contractor, the government agency has a process to follow … and it’s not a speedy one: “And it’s taking longer than any of us hoped,” Houser continues. “We’re really nervous about when that repair is going to happen. I do want to let people know that it’s not likely to happen this spring, probably into the summer. And of course we’re working really, really hard to have that dock in use by August 1.”
The first of August is the start of deer season on Zarembo Island. The rustic boat launch at Roosevelt Harbor is still usable for landing crafts to potentially move vehicles on and off Zarembo, and the St. John’s dock on the northwest side of the island is still available for boats to tie up at. But that’s a much longer ride from town.
At the same time, Houser says the Forest Service is also working to repair a road washout on Zarembo. It’ll be contracted through a different process, but she says she hopes having two projects needed in the same area at the same time will help prioritize Roosevelt Harbor’s dock repair.
Meanwhile, just out of the water at Roosevelt Harbor, the Forest Service is keeping a parking permit system in place for a second year for vehicles using the harbor parking lot.
Over the years, the gravel lot at Roosevelt Harbor had deteriorated, and was home to quite a few derelict vehicles. So last summer, the Forest Service hired a contractor to move and dispose of abandoned vehicles and redo the parking area.
Houser says the Forest Service is trying to avoid that happening again.
“Because we really do not want to have a whole new crop of derelict vehicles out there, we’re trying this sticker system,” she explains, “Where each year you have to get a new sticker so that we know that this someone cares about this car, it has an owner and someone’s responsible for keeping it up and making sure that it runs and that it doesn’t just get left out there and become a burden to the American people.”
This year’s stickers are more distinct. They are green, say Roosevelt parking, and include the year. Last year – the start of the new sticker system – they were just plain, colored stickers. Houser says getting the 2023 sticker should be an easy process.
“Come down to the Wrangell office, and we have a simple one-page form,” Houser says. “We need to know your VIN and the make and model of your vehicle so that we can identify it out there. And then some of your contact information. And that’s it and then we’ll give out a sticker to go be put onto your vehicle.”
Houser says the Forest Service is moving through the process of repairing the dock and road as quickly as they can, so the remote harbor and Zarembo Island are easily accessible to hunters, recreators and their vehicles and boats.
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