- Alaska Panhandle
The Alaska Panhandle, sometimes referred to as Southeast Alaska, is the southeastern portion of the
U.S. stateof Alaska, which lies just west of the northern half of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The majority of the panhandle's area is part of the Tongass National Forest, the United States' largest national forest. In many places, the international borderruns along the crest of the Boundary Rangesof the Coast Mountains(see Alaska boundary dispute).
The Alaska Panhandle is the northern terminus of the
Inside Passage, a protected waterway of convoluted passages between islands and fjords, beginning in Puget Soundin Washington state. This was an important travel corridor for native canoeists, as well as gold-rush steam ships, and in modern times is an important route for ferries and cruise ships. The Panhandlehas a land area of 91,008.18 km2 (35,138.46 square miles), comprised of five entire boroughs and three census areas, in addition to the part of Yakutat Borough lying east of 141° West longitude. Although it has only 6.14 percent of Alaska's land area, it is larger than the state of Maine, and almost as large as the state of Indiana. The 2000 census population of the Panhandle was 72,954 inhabitants, about 42 percent of whom were concentrated in the city of Juneau.
*Hoonah-Angoon Census Area
*Ketchikan Gateway Borough
*Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area
*Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area
*Yakutat Borough (the part east of 141° W longitude; 12,506.53 km², or about 63.12 percent of the borough)It includes the
Tongass National Forest, Glacier Bay National Park, Admiralty Island National Monument, Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska's Inside Passage, and myriad large and small islands. The largest islands are, from North to South, Chichagof Island, Admiralty Island, Baranof Island, Kupreanof Island, Revillagigedo Islandand Prince of Wales Island. Major bodies of water of the Alaska Panhandle include Glacier Bay, Lynn Canal, Icy Strait, Chatham Strait, Stephens Passage, Frederick Sound, Sumner Strait, and Clarence Strait.
National Parks and Monuments
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Sitka National Historical Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve(part, the southeasternmost section only)
Admiralty Island National Monument
Misty Fjords National Monument
Southeast Alaska is a
temperate rain forestwithin the Pacific temperate rain forestzone, which extends from northern Californiato Prince William Sound. The most common tree species are sitka spruceand western hemlockWildlife includes brown bears, black bears, wolves, Sitka deer, humpback whales, orcas, five species of salmon, bald eagles, harlequin ducks, scoters, and marbled murrelets.
Cities and towns
Major cities are Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan. Other towns are Petersburg, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Haines, Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Craig, Klawock, Yakutat, Skagway, and Gustavus. There are also many tiny (under 100 people) towns and villages, such as Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Port Protection, Port Frederick, Port Alexander, Baranof Warm Springs, Elfin Cove, Excursion Inlet, Hyder, and Meyers Chuck.
This area is the traditional homeland of the
Tlingitpeople, and home of a prehistoric settling of Haidaas well as a modern settlement of Tsimshian. The region is closely connected to Seattleand the American Pacific Northwesteconomically and culturally.
Major industries in Southeast Alaska include
commercial fishingand tourism(primarily the cruise ship industry). Logginghas been an important industry in the past, but has been steadily declining with competition from other areas and the closure of the region's major pulp mills.
Due to the extremely rural nature of Southeastern Alaska, almost all communities (with the exception of Hyder, Skagway, and Haines) have no road connections outside of their locale, so aircraft and boats are the major means of transport. The
Alaska Marine Highwaypasses through this region.
Alaska Airlinesis by far the largest air carrier in the region, with Juneau's Juneau International Airportserving as the aerial hub for all of Southeast and Ketchikan's Ketchikan International Airportserving as a secondary hub for southern Southeast Alaska. However, Alaska Airline's Boeing 737s can only be handled by a few airports in the region and Alaska's bush airlines serve many of the smaller and more isolated communities and villages in the regions. L.A.B. Flying Service(based out of Haines), Wings of Alaska(based out of Juneau), Alaska Seaplane Service(based out of Juneau), and Skagway Air Service(based out of Skagway) are the primary bush carriers in region and also offer cargo service to smaller communities.
Numerous carriers serve other parts of the Alaska Panhandle. For example, [Sunrise Aviation] (based in Wrangell), provides flightseeing and chartered service to outlying areas and international charters up the Stikine River to places such as Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake as well as numerous lakes and communities in Northern British Columbia.
Southeast Alaska is primarily served by the state-run
Alaska Marine Highwayand secondarily by the Prince of Wales Island-based Inter-Island Ferry Authorityalthough small companies like Sitka-based Alaska Catamaranand a myriad of independent operators in the Lynn Canalalso occasionally offer marine passenger service. Ship traffic in the area is also seasonally busy with cruise ships.
* [http://library.state.ak.us/asp/edocs/2007/04/ocn123132311.pdf The regional economy of southeast Alaska : final report] / prepared for Alaska Conservation Foundation ; prepared by Steve Colt, Darcy Dugan, Ginny Fay (EcoSystems). Hosted by [http://library.state.ak.us/asp Alaska State Publications Program] .
* [http://library.state.ak.us/asp/edocs/2007/04/ocn133148238.pdf Southeast Alaska energy export study : final report] / prepared for The Southeast Conference ; by D. Hittle & Associates, Inc., in association with Commonwealth Associates, Inc. Hosted by the [http://library.state.ak.us/asp Alaska State Publications Program] .
* [http://library.state.ak.us/asp/edocs/2007/04/ocn123202025.pdf Swan - Tyee intertie economic analysis] / prepared for the Four Dam Pool Power Agency ; prepared by CAI, Commonwealth Associates, Inc. Hosted by [http://library.state.ak.us/asp Alaska State Publications Program] .
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