Story last updated at 6/25/2014 - 2:14 pm
Kootznoowoo Wilderness, Admiralty Island National Monument, Tongass National Forest
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the WILDERNESS ACT, a landmark piece of legislation that, to date, has resulted in the designation of nearly 110 million acres of land in the United States and Puerto Rico. The U.S. Forest Service manages 35 million acres of designated wilderness - 5.8 million acres of that wilderness is located on the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.
This year, the Forest Service in Alaska has joined a national effort to recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Alaskans living in every community in Southeast live within a day's travel of one of the 19 wilderness areas on the Tongass - these are public lands reserved for the benefit and enjoyment of all, and open for gentle yet robust exploration.
This week's focus is on Kootznoowoo Wilderness, which encompasses most of Admiralty Island.
The second largest of 19 wilderness areas on the Tongass
Admiralty Island famously harbors one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world, which intensifies the "wild" aura of Kootznoowoo.
Designated in 1980, now has 956,255 acres
Three names for one island:
o British: Admiralty
o Russian: Ostrov Kutsnoi, or "Fear Island," likely due to the brown bear presence
o Tlingit: Kootznoowoo, or "Fortress of the Bears," officially preserved to describe the wilderness area on the island
While you're there:
Try the Cross Admiralty Canoe Route (www. seatrails.org/com_angoon/trl-crossadmiralty.htm), a 32-mile trek that bisects the island.
Get a permit to visit Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area (http://1.usa.gov/1w0FNsN).
Keep a safe distance from wildlife, and not just the bears. The wilderness is home to many creatures that deserve to live "untrammeled" by visitors.
Enjoy the rainforest; come prepared for the day - or potentially longer (the weather has a way of extending your stay).
Finally, take photos. Photography can be deeply personal while remaining non-intrusive.