A proposal to build a public-use cabin on a ridge in the Takshanuk Mountains crossed its final permitting hurdle this week.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a land lease that will enable local volunteer group Haines Huts to build and operate a backcountry cabin and outhouse near treeline south of Mount Tukgahgo, above the 7 Mile Saddle trail.

“We have already been milling local lumber with Chad (Bieberich at Mud Bay Lumber) for the construction. We have some of the lumber ready to go,” said Haines Huts board chair Natalie Dawson. “We’re definitely optimistic that we’ll do construction next summer.”

DNR approved a Haines Huts proposal in 2019 for a cabin in a different location, a mile closer to the Mount Tukgahgo summit, but the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Council urged the organization to relocate the hut out of sensitive mountain goat habitat.

Haines Huts applied to amend the lease in 2021, proposing the new location “to reduce potential impacts to wildlife,” according to a DNR preliminary decision on the amended lease.

The lease signed this week is for 10 years and prohibits construction of the hut during goat hunting season, Sept. 15 through Nov. 15. The area is popular among hunters.

The cabin — which Haines Huts has called Tukga-Hut — will be 16 by 20 feet and will be accompanied by an outhouse. Eben Sargent, who’s helping plan cabin construction, said the group hasn’t decided on a heating source yet but said the facility will have either a propane tank or a kerosene heater.

Dawson said the cabin will be just off the trail that connects 7 Mile Saddle to Chilly Ridge. “The site we’ve chosen is tucked in those trees right near the meadows,” she said, adding that the location will afford privacy to hut users and won’t disrupt the wilderness experience for nearby recreationists.

Haines Huts plans to construct much of the cabin in town and sling it via helicopter to its spot 3,200 feet above the 7 Mile trailhead. The organization secured a $20,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation for construction and is asking for donations that could add up to a community match, Dawson said.

“We’re hoping more fundraising could give us the ability to really make this a community project, involving local school programs and community folks who want to help with construction,” she said. Additional funds could be used to create a vocational skills program for local students who want to learn construction, Dawson added.

She said the group is still working on a reservation system but plans to allow for year-round public use of the facility.

Haines Huts is holding an info session Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Harriet Hall. For project updates, Dawson said residents can follow the group on Facebook or sign up to help at haineshuts.org.