Why You Should Visit
The Gustavus Forelands Preserve protects a unique landscape of forest, wetlands and beaches in Southeast Alaska at the edge of Glacier Bay National Park.
Each year, the preserve provides vital stopover habitat for migrating sandhill cranes. The preserve also provides an opportunity to see the process of glacial uplift at work.
Southeast Alaska. At the remote town of Gustavus, pop. 450, accessible by commercial air service and private boat from the city of Juneau. For information on travel and accomodations, visit www.gustavus.com.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In a region dominated by steep shorelines plunging into the sea, the flat topography of the Gustavus Forelands is a striking anomaly. This young landscape is home to a variety of animals some of which are uncommon in the older, heavily forested habitat typical of southeast Alaska. Birds such as Wilson's snipe, Canada geese, and short-eared owls nest in the wet uplands. Coyotes eke out a living on the periphery of the nearby town. Thousands of migratory waterfowl, such as sandhill cranes, and shorebirds rest and feed on the extensive mudflats. Black bears fatten up on strawberries and nagoonberries in the rich beach meadows. Marten, river otter, coyote, moose and wolf also frequent the forelands.
What the Conservancy Is Doing
The Conservancy obtained the lands that became the Gustavus Forelands Preserve in 2004. The preserves four parcels are located in and around the town of Gustavus and protect an area of more than 2,600 acres. Two additional parcels, or about 1,600 acres, that border the Dude Creek State Critical Habitat Area were deeded directly to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to be managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
To build the Nagoonberry Loop Trail in 2009, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska received financial support from Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, SEAtrails and the city of Gustavus. The trail offers an intimate encounter with with the region's landscapes to residents and those who visit Gustavus on their way to Glacier Bay National Park.