The Sitka Conservation Society formed when citizens gathered and spent years advocating for the designation of the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness, which was eventually achieved through the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. One of the core strategies was to bring policymakers, media, and others to the area in order for them to form a meaningful connection to this place; the type of connection you can only get from firsthand experience. Since then, we have continued stewarding Wilderness areas across the Tongass as we seek to expand access and ensure ecological health, partnering with the US Forest Service to implement projects. Our staff and volunteers collect Wilderness user data, conduct research and archaeological surveys; clean up cabins, campsites and trash; monitor and remove invasive species; and maintain trails. We do work in all the Wilderness Areas of Southeast Alaska but primarily West Chichagof-Yakobi, South Baranof, and Pleasant, Lemesurier, Inian Islands Wilderness areas, which are closest to the communities of Sitka and Pelican.
We also look for opportunities to continue our legacy of catalyzing lifelong, inspiring connections between people and these unique areas of the Tongas by getting a variety of people out experiencing them. Our work to increase access to the Wilderness areas involves bringing together extended backcountry trips pursued through kayaking and camping, locally owned and operated sailboats, transport aboard freight and fishing vessels, or with local charter boat businesses and by hosting people at our remote property near Pelican.