Misty Fiords is an unspoiled coastal ecosystem containing significant scientific and historical features unique in North America. It is an essentially untouched two million-acre area in the Coast Mountains of Southeast Alaska within which are found nearly all of the important geological and ecological characteristics of the region, including the complete range of coastal to interior climates and ecosystems in a remarkably compact area.
Among the objects of geologic importance are extraordinarily deep and long fiords with sea cliffs rising thousands of feet. Active glaciers along the Canadian border are remnants of the massive ice bodies that covered the region as recently as about 10,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. However, there have been periodic glacial advances and retreats in more recent historic periods. Some of the area has been free from glaciation for only a short period of time, creating the unusual scientific phenomenon of recent plant succession on newly exposed land with the accompanying animal species. The Behm Canal, the major inlet at the heart of the area, is more than fifty miles long and extraordinary among natural canals for its length and depth.
The watershed of the Unuk River, which comprises the northern portion of the Misty Fiords area, has its headwaters in Canada. It is steeply mountainous and glaciated and contains the full range of ecosystems and climates from interior to coastal. Mineral springs and lava flows add to the uniqueness of the area and its value for scientific investigation. South of the Unuk, the Chickamin River System and the Le Duc River originate in active glaciers and terminate in Behm Canal. Further south, Rudyerd Bay Fiords and Walker Cove are surrounded by high, cold lakes and mountains extending eastward to Canada.
First inhabitants of Misty Fiords may have settled in the area as long ago as 10,000 years. The area contains cultural sites and objects of historical significance, including traditional native hunting and fishing grounds. Later historical evidence includes a mid-1800's military post-port entry on Tongass Island and a salmon cannery in Behm Canal established in the late 1800's.
Misty Fiords is unique in that the area includes wildlife representative of nearly every ecosystem in Southeast Alaska, most notably bald eagles, brown and black bears, moose, wolves, mountain goats and Sitka black-tailed deer. Numerous other bird species nest and feed in the area, notably falcons and waterfowl. Misty Fiords is a major producer of all five species of Pacific salmon and is especially important for king salmon. Numerous other saltwater, freshwater and anadromous fish species and shellfish are plentiful in this area, which is an extraordinarily fertile interface of marine and freshwater environments. Unusual plant life includes Pacific silver and subalpine fir trees near the northern limit of their range. The area includes an unusual variety of virgin forests, ranging from coastal spruce-hemlock to alpine forests.
As an intact coastal ecosystem, Misty Fiords possesses a collective array of objects of outstanding value for continuing scientific study. The boundaries of the area follow watershed perimeters and include the smallest area compatible with protection of this unique ecosystem and the remarkable geologic and biological objects and features it contains.
Hunting and fishing shall continue to be regulated, permitted and controlled in accord with the statutory authorities applicable to the monument area.
Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), authorizes the President, at his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the government of the United States to be National Monuments, and to reserve as part thereof parcels of lands, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.
Now, Therefore, I, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906, (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby set apart and reserved as the Misty Fiords National Monument all lands, including submerged lands, and waters owned or controlled by the United States within the boundaries of the area described on the document entitled "Misty Fiords National Monument (Copper River Meridian)", attached to and forming a part of this Proclamation. The area reserved consists of approximately 2,285,000 acres, and is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. Lands, including submerged lands, and waters within these boundaries not owned by the United States shall be reserved as a part of the Monument upon acquisition of title thereto by the United States.
All lands, including submerged lands, and all waters within the boundaries of this Monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from entry, location, selection, sale or other disposition under the public land laws, other than exchange. There is also reserved all water necessary to the proper care and management of those objects protected by this Monument and for the proper administration of the Monument in accordance with applicable laws.
The establishment of this Monument is subject to valid existing rights, including, but not limited to, valid selection under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and under or confirmed in the Alaska Statehood Act (48 U.S.C. Note preceding Section 21).
Nothing in this Proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal, reservation or appropriation, including any withdrawal under section 17 (d) (1) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1616(d) (1)); however, the National Monument shall be the dominant reservation. Nothing in this Proclamation is intended to modify or revoke the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding dated September 1, 1972, entered into between the State of Alaska and the United States as part of the negotiated settlement of Alaska v. Morton, Civil No. A-48-72 (D. Alaska, Complaint filed April 10, 1972).
Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy or remove any feature of this Monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and third.