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Letter: Prince William Sound’s beauty requires wilderness protection

In 1980, Congress designated the 2.1-million-acre Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area, directing the U.S. Forest Service to report back on the suitability of all, part, or none of the area as federal wilderness. In 1984 and 2002 the Forest Service recommended that most of the area be designated as federal wilderness. Congress did not act and Prince William Sound still lacks official wilderness protection 30 years later.

Since then, the Sound experienced the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, whose impacts linger. Whittier’s Anton-Anderson Memorial tunnel (2000) caused an exponential increase in vessel traffic. The Sound continues to be popular, underscoring the necessity of preserving some part of the its wilderness.

Our mission is as an advocate to protect the water quality of Prince William Sound on behalf of all users. PWSK recommends all of the WSA be designated as wilderness (boating and fishing allowed). This is a vitally important issue for the future sustainability and productivity of the Sound. I urge all who love Prince William Sound to comment on the importance of wilderness quality. 

The U.S. Forest Service is holding a series of planning forums in the Chugach region through Oct. 3. Written comments can be submitted until Oct. 18.

— Kate McLaughlin,

president and executive director

Prince William Soundkeeper