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No doubt about it; it's a sad state for the U.S. Forest Service's recreational programs.
It's beginning to look like Alaskans will have to recreate in the outdoors like they did 30, 40 or even 50 years ago.
The Forest Service doesn't have enough dollars to maintain a large portion of its recreational programs. Its budget is half of what it was five years ago, and it is expected to decline over the next five. It's down to about $300,000 from $600,000.
Cabins, shelters, trails and buoys are part of the reduction conversation. Rate increases at cabins are being discussed. Discussion also includes whether private enterprise might be able to take over recreation opportunities.
The agency has been sharing the state of affairs with Ketchikan and the surrounding communities, trying to get the word out.
It also has been listening to suggestions. Who knows, but an adopt-a-cabin or adopt-a campsite type program might help out. Ketchikan's service organizations and families already adopt miles of highway to keep clean. One service organization annually cleans up Rotary Beach.
The range of volunteer opportunities might be growing in order to maintain more of the recreational program on federal land.
The Forest Service hasn't made any final decisions as to how it specifically will absorb the budget cuts, but the community stands forewarned.
It's a sad situation, but it is what it is. Ketchikan just might have to recreate differently or like it did before the agency built a recreational program.