Kootznoowoo, Inc. was recently notified that the corporation has been selected to receive a grant award in the amount of $465,000 from the United States Forest Service (USFS) through its Southeast Alaska Sustainable Strategies (SASS) program.

The grant, which has a three-year performance period, will support the development of eco-tourism opportunities, and provide training and seasonal employment for residents of Angoon.

“This grant will allow us to dip our toes into the water of developing visitor opportunities in a way that will have a positive impact in Angoon,” says Kootznoowoo Interim President & CEO Jon Wunrow. “It will also help support the local economy by providing seasons jobs for local residents and an opportunity for Angoon to share its rich history with visitors.”

The first part of the grant project will support the field work necessary to identify and develop a second bear viewing site to complement the bear viewing tour currently available through Fortress of the Bears, a business co-owned by Kootznoowoo, Inc. and Alaska Seaplanes.  The second part of the project will allow Kootznoowoo, Inc. to assist the USFS with revitalizing the Cross-Island canoe route on Admiralty Island as a tourism opportunity.

“The goal of this funding is to create a bear viewing tour as a tourism opportunity that could be based in Angoon instead of in Juneau, so that Angoon residents can be employed as guides and boat operators,” said Mr. Wunrow.

Over the next few months, Mr. Wunrow plans to meet with the Angoon City Council, Tribal Council, and Chatham School Board to discuss these opportunities and to get input and feedback on the best ways to move forward.