Walker Lake Retaining Wall Removal Project
The National Park Service (NPS) is considering the removal of about 25 meters of retaining wall located on the southeast side of Walker Lake within designated wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. The wall contains about 75 55-gallon drums filled with boulders and includes an outer wall of boulders and concrete around the drums. After dismantling, the metal drums would be transported via aircraft to Bettles, Alaska for disposal and the concrete material would be disposed of in Walker Lake. Lakeshore processes would return the shoreline site to natural conditions. Walker Lake was registered as a National Natural Landmark (NNL) in 1970, encompassing 181,236 acres, which includes the lake and its main tributary, the Koluluktok Creek.
The purpose of removing the retaining wall would be to restore the wilderness character of the Walker Lake area and allow for primitive and unconfined recreation without the sight of man's presence in designated wilderness. In accordance with the Wilderness Act the removal of the retaining structure is being pursued as a necessary step in the restoration of the area's wilderness character. Removing the retaining wall would allow natural processes to restore the shoreline function of Walker Lake and over time return the shoreline to natural conditions.
The NPS acquired the 5-acre Walker Lake property in 1988 and removed the lodge as per the purchase agreement. The retaining wall is one of two structures remaining on the site. The project is needed because the retaining wall, constructed in 1974, has adversely affected the wilderness values, natural lakeshore, and natural ecological processes along Walker Lake.