Letter from Rob Scherer to Misty Fiords Ranger Don Fisher regarding the  un-permitted floating dock in Rudyerd Bay, and other issues

PO Box 6117
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901

September 29, 1992

US Forest Service
Misty Fjords Ranger District
3031 Tongass Ave.
Ketchikan, AK 99901

Dear Don:

I'm very disappointed with the manner and direction the Forest Service is heading with regard to Misty Fjords National Monument. This past summer every single chartered trip I made into Misty was compromised significantly by situations directly or indirectly related to the Forest Service.

Forest Service Policy in the past regarding Misty had been an area-wide, minimum impact procedure when maintaining trails and cabins, and development of special projects. This work ethic was commendable and set an excellent example for all wilderness users. The Winstanley Bridge being hand constructed was a tremendous achievement that exemplifies that policy!

Recently, that minimum impact policy has been thrown out the window in both the non-wilderness and wilderness areas. Specifically, the Bakewell trail had for six weeks, a high-powered mechanical log splitter blocking the path to the stream and lake. Although users could walk around it, the fact is that it should not have been there for any reason. The job it was supposed to accomplish definitely could have been done with hand tools. Sixteen people had their nature hike compromised almost completely by this situation and the elaborate facility at the fish ladder. I now look at the Winstanley Bridge just a few miles away as a monument to the Forest Service confusion and lack of policy direction and commitment. I understand the technical boundaries of wilderness and non-wilderness within the monument but management by the Forest Service must be consistent over the entire area and not vary with changes in personnel.

Other significant problems need to be addressed also! A precedent has been set by Dale Pilman of Outdoor Alaska with his two floating docks in Rudyerd Bay! This opens the door for much larger docks, floating lodges and floathouses for commercial purposes. Misty Fjords National Monument is absolutely not the place for any such activity for any reason. The floating docks by Dale Pilman are appalling and have significantly diminished the Alaskan experience for 43 of my guests. I understand that the Forest Service has no authority to control the waterways but certainly it can work with State Agencies to adopt policies that maintain the integrity of the monument as a wilderness area. So far, I've been met with no assurances that any communication on this matter has been achieved!

Another problem that has been overlooked is the fact that the Cominco (formally Borax) loading facility located at the end of Wilson Arm is engaged in commercial crabbing activity. They've unloaded and stored a large number of commercial crab pots at the facility and will probably use it this season as a base of operation! I'm outraged about this situation because I know the Forest Service is aware of it and the obvious "intended use" violation. Cominco's lease is for mining not for any other commercial purpose including storage of any equipment other than that which is related to the maintenance of the road and mine facility.

Myself and scores of others are extremely disappointed with the apparent negative direction the Forest Service is heading. The problems are simple enough to address, they just need immediate attention at all levels. Maintaining the integrity of the wilderness depends on a consistent, clear policy and active communication within the Forest Service, between the Forest Service and State Agencies and with the various user groups. Until the Forest Service, Misty area focuses on these problems I've addressed they cannot expect users to take them seriously about their commitment to maintain the Misty Fjords National Monument as a wilderness area. Any future policies regarding public users will not work unless a loud, consistent, enforceable management directive is laid out first with current and past issues completely resolved within the Forest Service itself!

Rob Scherer


Correspondence list

The Presidential Proclamation establishing Misty Fiords 

Letter from Rob Scherer to Misty Fiords Ranger Don Fisher regarding the  un-permitted floating dock in Rudyerd Bay, and other issues (September 29, 1992)

Letter from US Forest Service Ketchikan District Ranger to Rob Scherer responding to concerns about the un-permitted floating dock in Rudyerd Bay and other issues (December 12, 1992)

Department of Natural Resources management direction for tide and submerged lands (agency review draft, June 1999)

Excerpt from e-mail message from Jeremiah Ingersoll, Ketchikan District Ranger (July, 1999)

Letter from US Forest Service Ketchikan District Ranger to Alaska Department of Natural Resources regarding complaints about the un-permitted floating dock in Rudyerd Bay (July 20, 1999)

E-mail message from Rob Scherer to agencies and news media (August, 1999)

Letter to the Editor of the Ketchikan Daily News (September 13, 1999)

Comments to the US Army Corps of Engineers about the floating docks (December 1999)

US Forest Service

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council

Mike Stanley


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Friends of Misty Fiords Wilderness
c/o Rob Scherer
PO Box 6117
Ketchikan, AK 99901

E-mail: info@mistyfiords.org

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