The former airstrip at Cube Cove is clearly visible just to the north of Peanut Lake.

The former airstrip at Cube Cove is clearly visible just to the north of Peanut Lake. “In their logging heyday, they used to land amphibious 185’s there, so it was in pretty good shape,” says Sitka pilot and Shee Atika shareholder Sonny Cropley. (Google Earth image)

The landing strip at Cube Cove on Admiralty Island is not open to the public, and is unsafe for landing in any case, according to its owner Shee Atiká Incorporated.

Sitka-based Shee Atiká has run a full-page ad in the Juneau Empire alerting people — and especially pilots — that much of Cube Cove remains private property, despite a recently-publicized buy-back by the Forest Service.

cube_cove_advertThe ad in the Empire isn’t exactly a friendly reminder. It explicitly warns “all persons, including aircraft owners, operators, and pilots” that all of Shee Atiká’s property in Cube Cove is off-limits, including the airstrip and beach.

The ad also warns that anyone who “commits a trespass will be held responsible for all consequences of any such trespass.”

And it ends on a menacing note: “Fail not at your peril.”

Shee Atiká CEO Ken Cameron says he hasn’t seen the ads in the Empire, but he says “trespassing at Cube Cove is nothing new.” He says the corporation is aware that planes have been landing there, and that it’s made efforts to follow up with trespassers.

His main concern though is safety. The runway is unmaintained and closed, with white X’s painted on either end. “We just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Cameron says.

Cube Cove is about 30 miles south of Juneau, on the western shore of Admiralty Island. The Shee Atiká property there — about 22,000 acres in all — was conveyed to Sitka’s urban Native corporation in the late 1980s, as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, making it the largest private in-holding in the Admiralty Island National Monument.

But Cube Cove made headlines last fall when Shee Atiká announced that it was selling back about 4,500 acres of its Cube Cove property to the Forest Service — for $4 million.
That land is on the southern shore of Lake Florence, about seven miles from the airstrip, which is still on land owned by Shee Atiká.

That was news to pilot and Shee Atika shareholder Sonny Cropley. Cropley is aware of the Cube Cove airstrip, and he’s flown over it. At one time, he recalls shareholders were allowed to buy a $75 permit to land to go hunting, but he’s never considered putting down his Cessna 150 there, because of the poor condition of the runway.

“I thought Shee Atiká sold it back to the government,” he says.

Not quite yet. The Forest Service plans to reacquire remaining 18,000 acres of Cube Cove property — including the now-closed airstrip — as money becomes available in the agency’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Cube Cove Airstrip