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Whale Watching and LeConte Glacier Tours based out of Petersburg Alaska

Three Lakes Shelter hosts picnic celebration


Photo submitted by Gina Esposito

Over 80 people attended a picnic celebration to recognize the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act held at the Three Lakes Shelter last Friday.

The Petersburg Ranger District held a local celebration to recognize the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act last week and over 80 people attended the event.

The celebration took place on Friday in the form of a picnic at the Three Lakes Shelter out the road. U.S. Forest Service employees treated guests to interpretive hikes and grilled hot dogs for lunch.

Joni Johnson, a USFS botanist and

ecologist provided plant identification walks and taught some youngsters how to age a tree by

conducting a tree coring. Linda Slaght, Petersburg's Public Services staff officer, even educated kids on how to safely catch dragonflies to study them.

"Which is not an easy thing to do. If you've ever seen them flying around, they are pretty quick," Slaght said laughing. "It was fun to watch them being absorbed in the activity."

Gina Esposito, an archaeologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Petersburg, said the shelter made a good place to host the event because it is easily accessible by road, offers a relatively short hike and its history.

"The setting is very beautiful, and there is plenty for folks to do," she said. "Our goal was to see people connecting with the outdoors, and each other, while learning a little of our local history."

Esposito said the shelter was originally built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program created as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. This meant the shelter was eligible for listing to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2006, the USFS did a historic restoration of the shelter after noticing the wear and tear of 70 years of use had begun to take a toll on the structure. This led to a historic restoration effort on the site.

A recently built sign at the shelter explains its historic significance, and the hope is it will add to the experience visitors have at the site. It might also encourage visitors to take care of the shelter, because they know the significance of its long history, Esposito said.

Many of the visitors for the picnic celebration were local residents, and for many of them it was their first time seeing the shelter. A few visitors hailed from Idaho and Colorado, and Esposito said she was thoroughly pleased with the turnout.  

"I'm really happy with how it went. It was just what I was hoping for," she said. "My favorite visitor was an older gentleman who was last there in the 1960s. He had hiked in from Ideal Cove before the roads were built."

Part of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act in Alaska, is developing a website highlighting "49 Sites in the 49th State." The Three Lakes Shelter was chosen to be part of the group.


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