Putting salmon first on the Tongass

Stream in Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Photo by Heather Hardcastle

By Paula Dobbyn

Home to the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest, Southeast Alaska is America’s wettest, wildest and “fishiest” region. With its towering spruce, hemlock and cedar trees and more than 17,000 miles of anadromous rivers, creeks and lakes, the Tongass produces far more wild salmon than any other national forest in the United States. But despite its bounty as a salmon forest and tourist destination that draws more than 2 million cruise ship, airline and ferry passengers a year, the Tongass is still managed by the U.S. Forest Service largely for old-growth timber production.

Its recently released Big Thorne timber sale on Prince of Wales Island is the latest evidence of the Forest Service’s misguided approach to Tongass management. TU's Alaska Program is working to change that. Through partnerships with commercial fishermen, lodge owners, guides and outfitters, tourism entrepreneurs, and others, TU is encouraging the Forest Service to fulfill its stated goal of transitioning away from old-growth logging and moving its resources and focus into young-growth management, forest restoration and growth industries like fishing, maritime and visitor services.  

 

Enjoying some southeast Alaska sun and salmon catching. Photo by Mark Kaelke

We’re also encouraging Congress to introduce legislation that would conserve nearly 2 million acres of prime salmon and trout habitat that remains vulnerable to development impacts from logging, mining, fish-unfriendly hydroelectric projects, and road building. It’s called the Tongass 77 proposal. Why Tongass 77?  It’s because the 2 million or so acres are located in the top 77 salmon and trout producing watersheds on the Tongass - and they deserve permanent protection through Congress.

Check out www.americansalmonforest.org to learn more and support the Tongass 77 campaign.     

Blogs:

Let’s Not Cook The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs, Trout Unlimited blog

It’s Time For Sustainable Logging, Trout Unlimited blog

Big Thorne: Big Step Backwards for Tongass, Trout Unlimited blog

Time for Change on the Tongass is Now, Trout Unlimited blog

In the News:

Forest Service Should Cease Tongass Old-Growth Logging Immediately, Juneau Empire

Fish Need Trees, Too, New York Times

A New Plan For the Tongass National Forest, Juneau Empire

Saving Salmon: You Start With The Trees, Pacific Fishing

Paula Dobbyn is the Communications Director for Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program in Anchorage.

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