Above: USFS Sitka Ranger District archaeologist Raeanna Wood looking out at the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness. Photo by Lione Clare.

During the first week of May, SCS went to the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness with Wilderness rangers and an archaeologist from the Sitka Ranger District (SRD) onboard the local 53-foot charter vessel, Equinox. We conducted encounter and recreational site monitoring of campsites, cabins, and trails, and surveyed cultural sites and resources.

SRD’s archaeologist Raeanna Wood joined this trip to lead the surveys of cultural sites and resources. Being involved in the archaeological work was a great experience and we learned even more about the history of the Wilderness.  

As Raeanna describes, “‘Cultural resources’ is a catch-all term that includes everything from artifacts to places of human activity, occupation, or use. In Southeast Alaska, they can be rock art, stone tools, ancient fish traps, culturally modified trees, shell middens, totem poles, cabin remains, village sites, and industrial remains from mines, canneries, and fur farms. The Forest Service Heritage Program is responsible for identifying cultural resources on National Forest System lands. We monitor the condition of cultural resources to assess general impacts to them, whether environmental or human-caused. We also evaluate the adequacy of methods used to identify and protect cultural resources on National Forest System lands.

Wood surveying an archaeological site. Photo by Lione Clare.

"During this trip, we monitored three archaeological sites, two historic mines (providing a much-needed update in our documentation for one), and a trail associated with a historic mine. Monitoring ensures that these resources, which contribute to our understanding of the history of this place, are intact.”

If you would like more information, visit the Forest Service Alaska Region webpage for History & Culture.

An archeological site found during monitoring. Photo by Lione Clare. 

“Anytime I’m out helping steward and document the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness area, which is one of my favorite places in the world, I think of SCS’s legacy of sharing and caring for this place and working to protect it. And, being able to partner with the Forest Service and a local business to make this trip possible and even exceed our expectations made this a special trip” says our Wilderness & Community Engagement Coordinator Lione Clare. It was beneficial to be able to charter Equinox for this trip, which, paired with their smaller vessel, Ecliptic, opened up a whole range of potential to cover a greater area of the Wilderness and gather more data than would have been possible with kayaks. Equinox is owned by Cameo Padilla and Brooks Areson, a delightful pair of outfitter/guides who offer authentic experiences for their guests on the Equinox to experience the Tongass, including West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness. You can check out the experiences they offer at www.equinoxalaska.com.

The Equinox out on the waters of the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness Area. Photo by Lione Clare.