An improved Off-Highway Vehicle crossing at the Old Situk River is the latest accomplishment of a partnership between Yakutat Tlingit Tribe and the Yakutat Ranger District on the Tongass National Forest. Working side-by-side, Forest Service staff and YTT local hires worked to harden the streambed where the 10-Mile Bog ATV Trail crosses the Old Situk River. The cooperative project met multiple objectives for the Forest Service and the community by protecting a high-value resource, providing access, and creating jobs.
The improved crossing mitigates user impact on spawning and juvenile wild salmon at the and downstream of the site. Previously, the disturbance of fine sediments and stream gravel caused by ATV users fording the stream made it difficult for juvenile salmon to feed and degraded the quality of the spawning habitat.
The crossing at the Old Situk River links two portions of the 10-Mile Bog Trail which is designated open ATVs. The trail passes through some of the most productive hunting areas near the community of Yakutat and also provides access to the USFS Middle Situk cabins. Prior to the project the crossing was illegal under State regulations, but with the improvements the trail is open to all users year round. The newly constructed ford now meets national best management practices for water quality management on National Forest System lands allowing for legal ATV access to the entirety of the 10-Mile Bog Trail.
The cooperative project was supported by Secure Rural Schools Title II funds. The Old Situk River ford project complements additional project work completed in 2015 on the trail including new boardwalk and Geoblock across wetland areas. The earlier project work was also funded with support from the SRS Yakutat Resource Advisory Committee.