Black Bear Creek, Union Bay

Black Bear Creek, Union Bay

by | Nov 22, 2019

Black Bear Creek starts in Bear Lake and flows northwest for 6 miles (10 km) through the Tongass National Forest to Union Bay, on the southwest coast of the Cleveland Peninsula, about 33 miles (53 km) northwest of Ketchikan, Alaska. The descriptive name was recorded in 1914 by E.L. Jones of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, who “observed here a heavy destruction of salmon by black bear”. Union Bay is near the south entrance to Ernest Sound. It is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) wide at the entrance, 1.25 miles (2.01 km) at its head, and is about 3 miles (4.8 km) long. At its head is a large lagoon, the estuary for Black Bear Creek, that is mostly dry at low water.

The origin of the Tongass National Forest dates to 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter and naturalist, issued a proclamation declaring it the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve. Five years later, Roosevelt signed another proclamation, creating a separate Tongass National Forest. Both areas were officially combined on July 1, 1908. An additional proclamation, signed in 1909, added more Southeast lands and islands, bringing the total area of the Tongass National Forest to what it is today: 16.8 million acres (6,798,725 ha) making it America’s largest national forest. With its vast expanses of remote and undeveloped lands, the Tongass is one of the world’s last largely intact temperate rainforests.

The Tongass is inhabited by large populations of brown and black bears. Black bears are the most abundant and widely distributed of the three species of North American bears, and an estimated 100,000 black bears inhabit Alaska. Kuiu Island, which is 80 miles (130 km) northwest of Union Bay, has a population of 1,019 black bears which is one of the highest black bear densities known. The black bear is the smallest of the North American bears, an adult is about 29 inches (73 cm) high at the shoulders and about 60 inches (152 cm) long from nose to tail. Black bears can vary in color from jet black to white. Black is the color encountered most frequently, but brown or cinnamon-colored black bears are sometimes seen in Southcentral Alaska and on the southeastern mainland. Some bluish-colored bears called glacier bears may be found in the Yakutat area and in other parts of Southeast Alaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Black Bear Creek here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

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