Eric and Pam Bealer made a home on the edge of the West Chichagof Wilderness Area on a homestead farm that they built themselves. The Bealers salvaged logs from the beach that they milled into lumber and split into shingles to build their home, barns, and outbuildings. They built boats that they used to navigate Tongass waters and to deliver art to surrounding communities with cedar and spruce from the Tongass. They harvested, gathered, and grew as much of their food supply as they could from the lands and waters around them. Perhaps most notably, they took inspiration from the natural environment around their homestead, which fueled their art which they created and sold in galleries throughout Southeast Alaska.
Eric and Pam left their farm property, their boats, and everything at the farm and in their estate to the Sitka Conservation Society’s Living Wilderness Fund. In their will, they left SCS as beneficiaries “for the benefit of said organization, be they use it, rent it, or sell it. With all money going into the Living Wilderness Fund, so that they may continue to help and protect this land that we so love.” The gratitude that we have for the Bealers and their gift to us is beyond measure. Since becoming owners of their property and all their possessions, we have done everything in our ability to continue their legacy, to preserve and honor their memory, to uphold and share their values and ideals, and to thoroughly work to protect the place that they loved.
Since becoming owners of their property, we have used the space to host artists, writers, community leaders, and SCS staff to take inspiration from the beauty of the surrounding environment. The surrounding mountains, forests, and waters are in one of the most beautiful corners of the Tongass National Forest. It offers a place where one can feel a close and deep connection with the environment and where the buildings and spaces that the Bealer’s created offer peace of mind, tranquility, and fosters reflection and contemplation. In our use of this property, we aspire to continue the legacy of the founders of the Sitka Conservation Society to introduce people to the Tongass, let it inspire them, and to send them on their way to carry a life-long connection and sense of stewardship for this place. With their gift to the Living Wilderness Fund, the Bealers have provided the Sitka Conservation Society with an invaluable asset that gives us huge possibilities for accomplishing our mission to protect the Tongass.