The United States Congress designated the Saint Lazaria Wilderness (map
) in 1970 and it now has a total of 65 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Alaska
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Rising no more than 180 feet above the surging ocean at the entrance to Sitka Sound, Saint Lazaria Island was established as a refuge for seabirds in 1909, became a Wilderness in 1970, and was added as a subunit to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in 1980. Saint Lazaria has two low summits, forested with mature Sitka spruce, which are connected by a bare saddle that is washed by waves at high tide. Cliffs topped with lush grasses fall to the sea.
Among the tangled tree roots are the burrows of petrels, tufted puffins, and rhinoceros auklets. Pigeon guillemots create a nest-scrape in rocky crevices near common murres, glaucous-winged gulls, and pelagic cormorants. Just under half a million birds lay their eggs on Saint Lazaria, where overcast skies drizzle rain and winds blow moderately to strong throughout much of the year. People are asked to not land on the island, and especially not to walk around. Burrows are crushed easily (as are the occupants), and many birds may abandon their nest when disturbed, allowing the bolder gulls, crows, and ravens to swoop in and feed on eggs and chicks.