Chugach National Forest

Mitch Michaud

You might see smoke coming from parts of the Chugach National Forest this week and next.

But it’s no cause for alarm. The Forest Service said it’s burning slash piles in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass, partly in an effort to mitigate the local spruce bark beetle problem.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.

The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

It’s finally sunny and nice out, and with a three-day holiday weekend ahead, Alaskans are likely to hit the outdoors in every direction. That’s always been the case, but in the past two years, it’s been more than ever.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 and most social activities were shuttered, Alaskans headed outside in record numbers. For Southcentral Alaska, that often means the Chugach National Forest, Chugach State Park and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Across those three areas, trails, cabins and campgrounds saw unprecedented use.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

It was morel mushroom mania on the Kenai Peninsula last summer. The 2019 Swan Lake Fire left behind perfect conditions for the brown-capped mushrooms to grow, including in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which saw a large portion of the burn.

The second year after a burn is never as good as the first, morel-wise. But there’s still hope for mushroom hunters this summer.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

When U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowksi came to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce this week, she was excited to talk about legislation she said has flown under the radar in this busy year.

“We passed what is probably the most consequential measure when it comes to how we deal with the deferred maintenance on our public lands," she said. "This is the Great American Outdoors Act.”

U.S. Forest Service

High up in the mountains of the Chugach and Tongass forests, there are over 50 radio communication sites. The U.S. Forest Service uses them to send radio communications from one side of the mountains to the other, and back to the service dispatch in Anchorage. 

The sites are important to the service all year long, said Alaska Region Radio Manager Stacy Griffith.

CNFAIC

Stay out of the backcountry from Girdwood down to Seward today. There’s an avalanche warning for Turnagain Pass following Monday’s storm, whose wintry mix of precipitation and wind creates the perfect conditions for an avalanche.

“The storm, as you know, is quite warm,” said Wendy Wagner of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. “And when we really get these warm, wet, powerful storms, the avalanche hazard increases dramatically and we start seeing big avalanches that can run all the way down to the valley bottom and even sea level.”

Trim trees free of fees

Nov 30, 2020
Courtesy of Leah Eskelin

Depending on who you ask, holiday decorations are fair game the moment the turkey leaves the table.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge certainly seems to think so. It opened to Christmas tree harvesting Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s probably good to note that it’s not just any tree, anywhere," said Leah Eskelin, a lead project ranger and visitors center manager for the refuge.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Troopers have identified the victim of a fatal bear mauling last Thursday near Hope.

46-year old Daniel Schilling of Hope was found dead by family and friends after he was overdue to come home. Troopers say he was out clearing a trail about a mile behind his property, which is about mile 8 of the Hope Highway, that day, but his wife became concerned when he was late and his dog came home without him.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A man was killed by a bear last night near the town of Hope.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers say the man was clearing brush near his property off the Hope Highway, around mile 8, near the community of Sunrise. Troopers say his wife became worried when he didn’t return on time and his dog returned without him.

How’s the health of the trees is your neck of the woods? Find out, with the help of retired silviculturist (fancy forester) Mitch Michaud.

Warm storm expected over south central this weekend

Dec 5, 2019
CNFAIC

 

Backcountry enthusiasts were rewarded for their patience this week, with a long-awaited heavy snowfall covering much of south central Alaska. But more patience will likely be needed before the best opportunities for snow sports are ready. 

Despite the dearth of snow on the Kenai Peninsula, the Chugach National Forest’s Avalanche Information Center is gearing up.
    The Forest, which surrounds the Seward Highway, is doubly-cursed as being prime avalanche country and exceedingly easy to access for off-road and back-country recreation.
    As a result, avalanche specialists working out of the Chugach National Forest Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, provide detailed observations and forecasts and daily backcountry avalanche advisories from November through April.

More land, cabins open in Chugach NF

Oct 10, 2019

        More wilderness area is being reopened to the public in the aftermath of the Swan Lake Fire.

The Chugach National Forest is rescinding the previously closed areas of the Chugach National Forest impacted by the Fire. This reopens the south portion of the Resurrection Pass Trail, West Swan Lake, Swan Lake, Juneau Lake, Romig, and Trout Lake cabins, and surrounding areas. All areas, cabins, and trails are now open on the Seward Ranger District.

AK Fire Info

The Swan Lake Fire, now over 95,000 acres, continues burning northeast of Sterling, with the fire danger prompting the Chugach National Forest to issue a temporary fire prohibition order for the Kenai Peninsula area of the forest.

The east flank of the Swan Lake Fire continues to move upslope and into higher elevations along the mountain ridge line. Fire managers say the change in vegetation is expected to reduce the ability for fire to move above ground resulting in slower fire spread and lower intensity burning.

This week on the Kenai Conversation, guests John Morton, the supervisory fish and wildlife biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Hans Rinke, the Kenai-Kodiak Area forester with the Alaska Division of Forestry discuss our forests, the trees in them, their future and the potential threats they face. 

Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center

  KDLL's Adventure Talk hijacked the Kenai Conversation Wednesday morning. Host Jenny Neyman talked with two long time backcountry skiers and avalanche experts about being safe while traversing the snow up in the hills and mountains.

Backcountry enthusiast Tony Doyle, and Wendy Wagoner, director and forecaster at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center both talked about preparing for adventure in the snowy backcountry.