A diverse cordillera and archipelago

Provinces numbered along the mainland from NW to SE, then down through the archipelago.

Southeast Alaska is divided into 22 biogeographic provinces. Here in Áak’w and T’aakú Aaní (land of Auk & Taku people), our ‘home provinces’ are highlighted as “A” and “T” on the thumbnail, right.

Provinces were delineated by Forest Service geographers in 1979. Thirty years later, Dave Albert, John Schoen and I made minor revisions to those units, adding provinces #2, 3 and 4 on non-National Forest Land. My province borders and numbers are identical to those in Audubon’s Ecological Atlas of Southeast Alaska (Smith, ed, 2016) but the names are different. I’ve tried to purge IWGNs (important white guy names) in favor of more place-based, and frequently at least Lingít-derived names. My placenames convention is explained at the bottom of the JuneauNature home page. More extensive background is in Culture>Naming places, and in particular, my essay Naming our home.

The 22 provinces are grouped by color into 5 ‘super-provinces’ as mapped by MacDonald & Cook for similar mammal assemblages reflecting barriers to dispersal and about 10,000 years of genetic drift. You can also view the provinces on a clickable map that opens each subsection.

Here’s an interactive map hosted by ArcGIS Online. It will allow you to frame and export your own custom maps. To see the legend, open >> on the left. Here you can turn layers on an off by checking the left-side boxes. For example, try unchecking the saltwater layer to see more basemap detail. Smaller units are watersheds (modified from USFS Value Comparison Units, or VCUs). Click on them to see name, province number and area in square miles. Change the base map type by clicking the 4-square icon. For example, to display hillshade bathymetry, check the Oceans base map
View larger map

Blues: Mainland provinces:

1 Yakutat

2 Lituya

3 Glacier Bay

4 Chilkat

5 Áak’w

6 T’aakú

7 Stikine

8 N Misty

9 S Misty

Browns: Northern outer provinces

10 West Xunaa

11 East Xunaa

12 West Shee

13 East Shee

Yellow: Admiralty province

14 Xutsnoowú

Greens: Inner provinces

15 Kuiu

16 Central Islands

17 Delta Islands

18 Sanyaa

Pinks: Southern outer provinces

19 Outside Islands

20 N Tàan

21 S Tàan

22 Howkan

In keeping with my place-names convention, (home page) I’ve tried to purge this map of IWGNs (important white guy names). In a small departure from that convention, trying to keep names at least a little recognizable to English-speakers, I’ve retained familiar spellings (Lituya instead of Ltu.áa; Chilkat instead of Jilkáat, Stikine instead of Shtax’héen).

In 2018 I began to re-assemble the components of a my provinces description. Here’s some of the introductory material from the Atlas, called Heart and edge: Biogeographic provinces of Southeast Alaska. It explains the hierarchy of geographic divisions, both larger and smaller than “provinces.” For example, our provinces nest within 2 “ecoregions” as defined by the World Wildlife Fund.  Archipelago provinces fall within the North Pacific Coastal Forests, while the mainland’s mostly in the Pacific Coastal Mountain Tundra & Icefields ecoregion.

While roaded portions of CBJ (City and Borough of Juneau) are described by watershed in our Juneau section, more remote portions of our 2 ‘home provinces’ (for example, Tracy Arm in T’aakú province) are treated here. Below is a scaleable map of the provinces hosted by ArcGIS Online:

In this section

Atlas of biogeographic provinces (draft)

Heart and edge: Biogeographic provinces of Southeast Alaska An atlas-in-progress for the 22 provinces of Lingít and Haida Aaní. This…

2018 (draft) | Richard Carstensen | 7 page excerpt

Southeast glaciers from IfSAR, ArcGIS Online

On receipt of the new DSM (digital surface model) from IfSAR missions at 5-meter pixel resolution, it became possible to…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 1 page

Historical aerials of Southeast communities

In 2011, Cathy Pohl and I received a drive with 22,000 scanned air photos taken by the Navy in 1948.…

2011 | Richard Carstensen | 35 minutes

The Nature of Southeast Alaska

It’s a little unorthodox for authors to review their own books, so I’ll defer on this first one. But it…

2013 | Carstensen, Armstrong & O'Clair | 310 pages

Just before the camera: journal of Richard Meade

Richard Meade was captain of a steamship that spent 4 months in Southeast in 1868 and 1869. I’ve created a…

2014 | Richard Meade (Carstensen, ed) | 42 pages

Reading Southeast Alaska’s landscape

How bedrock, foundations, glaciers, rivers and sea shape the land How bedrock influences the shape of mountains and coastal landforms.…

2013 | Cathy Connor|Richard Carstensen | 28 pages