November 5, 2013
Juneau, Alaska — The Conservation Fund announced today the completion of a joint effort with the U.S. Forest Service to preserve the last privately-owned property on Whitewater Bay, part of the nearly one million-acre Admiralty Island National Monument. The U.S. Congress provided funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s premier conservation program, for this effort.
The Conservation Fund purchased the 160-acre property along the coast of Whitewater Bay in May 2013 and held it while the Forest Service secured funding for its permanent protection. The site was purchased from an Alaskan Native family, who wished to honor the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Alaska Native Sisterhood in appreciation for generations of natural land stewardship. With the help of U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and U.S. Congressman Don Young, Congress appropriated funding for the LWCF in Fiscal Year 2013, enabling the Forest Service’s recent acquisition and ensuring that the Whitewater Bay parcel be protected in accordance with the wishes of the family.
Admiralty Island National Monument encompasses the Kootznoowoo Wilderness, which means “Fortress of the Bear” in the native Tlingit language. Home to the highest concentration of brown bears in the world, the area also boasts old growth rainforest, alpine tundra and a rugged coastline that creates unrivaled opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation.
“This is an exciting opportunity to bring additional land under National Forest management within the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and Admiralty Island National Monument,” said Chad VanOrmer, Monument Ranger. “It’s inclusion as a public resource will ensure generations have access to this unique island ecosystem and natural beauty within Whitewater Bay.”
The abandoned Tlingit village of Neltushkin in the northwest part of Whitewater Bay suggests that this area has been used by Natives for centuries. Today Tlingit cultural connections remain very strong in the nearby village of Angoon, and its inhabitants rely on the bay for subsistence.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund not only made this effort possible, but it is also an important resource for Native landowners who want to sell their lands and preserve their natural beauty,” said Brad Meiklejohn, Alaska Representative for The Conservation Fund. “We’re grateful to Congress for continuing to fund this critical program that enhances America’s outdoor legacy and are especially thankful to Senators Murkowski and Begich and Congressman Young for championing the outdoors as a critical contributor to Alaska’s economy and heritage.”
The Alaska Native Allotment Act of 1906 allowed individual Alaska Natives to select and own up to 160 acres of land in the state if they could demonstrate historic use and occupancy. Today there are over 12,000 Native Allotments in Alaska, primarily located around historic villages and subsistence use areas for hunting and fishing.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.
About the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
Established by Congress in 1965, LWCF is a visionary and bipartisan federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties for the protection of irreplaceable lands and improvement of outdoor recreation opportunities across the nation. No taxpayer dollars are used to support LWCF. The program has permanently protected nearly five million acres of public lands including forests, natural resources, state and local parks and recreation areas.