Multi-year project in Hoonah under the Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration program receives $6 million

Tongass Forest

Hoonah, Alaska (KINY) – Prince of Wales Island on the Tongass National Forest recently received nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for four local projects.

The federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allow for the agency’s Legacy Roads and Trails Program to highlight the projects for this year’s emphasis on improving water quality, restoring aquatic organism passages, and maintaining forest access; addressing climate change adaptation by improving road crossings and drainage infrastructure and trail design to withstand new weather patterns; improving resiliency by relocating roads and trails out of areas prone to flooding considering new foreseeable weather patterns; and partnering with public and private sector entities, and work across boundaries with state, tribes, local communities, private landowners, and other federal agencies.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has given us a remarkable opportunity to improve our national forests and public facilities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “These investments will ensure that millions of Americans can continue to enjoy clean water, world-class recreation, and more resilient transportation infrastructure across hundreds of communities in and around national forests and grasslands.” The following projects are on Prince of Wales Island:

  • Prince of Wales National Forest System Road 2050 – $250,000: Treatment for long-term storage of a segment of National Forest System Road including removal of bridges and culverts and installation of waterbars (trenches across the road for runoff). Project will restore stream channels and hydrologic connectivity.
  • Shaheen Aquatic Organism Passage – $800,000: Construct aquatic organism passages that will allow for passage at all flows and limit water diversion potential. Project will improve road resilience and support future access for the public, contractors, permittees, and firefighters.
  • Shelter Road Access Improvements and Aquatic Organism Passage- $786,243: Replacement of damaged culverts with aquatic organism passages and surfacing of National Forest System roads. This project will improve aquatic organism habitat and hydrologic connectivity, improve road resilience, reduce sediment transport, and support future access for the public, contractors, permittees, and firefighters.
  • Upper Steelhead Road – $100,000: Treatment for long-term storage and decommissioning of segments of a National Forest System Road.

The Tongass also received funding from the Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration program. More than $6 million will support the forest’s Game Creek Watershed Water Crossing Improvement project.

Game Creek is a 33,241-acre mixed ownership watershed managed by Sealaska Corporation (27%) and the Tongass National Forest (73%) near Hoonah, Alaska. Game Creek Watershed contains valuable ecological resources to residents of Hoonah, is critical for local subsistence (food security), and is important for economic activity in the region.

The Priority Watershed designation in this mixed-ownership watershed capitalizes on the tangible progress of the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership which is composed of multiple agencies, non-governmental organizations, and tribal entities.

The partnership collaboratively developed a restoration plan which showed restoration opportunities to improve fish passage, water quality, and overall watershed function and condition on northern Chichagof Island.

The plan identified projects and priorities which are being designed and implemented collaboratively with partners including Sealaska Corporation, Huna Totem Corporation, Hoonah Indian Association, Natural Resource Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Forest Service.

The projects reconnect 2.5 miles of blocked Class II fish habitat and enhances climate resilience for fish and aquatic ecosystems and support economic and cultural sustainability via contracts and partnerships with the Hoonah Indian Association.