Jan. 12, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tim Bristol at 907-321-3291 or Tbristol@tu.org
Trout Unlimited Calls for More Protections for Salmon, Steelhead and Trout in Tongass Plan Revision
Trout Unlimited, North America’s largest cold water fisheries conservation organization today said the just released 2007 Tongass Land Management Plan Amendment Draft Environmental Impact Statement: “fails to put fish first.”
“There’s a lot in the document, some of it good for fish, and some that is cause for concern,” says Tim Bristol, director of TU’s Alaska Program. “However, it appears this time around the Forest Service is far more open to feedback from the public and that’s a welcome step for all of us who care about and depend upon salmon, steelhead and trout.”
The plan amendment was ordered by a federal court in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups; the public will have roughly three months to offer comments on the draft plan.
Chief among TU’s concerns was the near complete absence of fish and fish habitat discussion in the list of Focus Issues used to frame the DEIS.
Other TU concerns include:
- In spite of the risks to fish habitat acknowledged in the DEIS, all seven of the alternatives offered by the Forest Service propose increased levels of road construction and stream crossings.
- No truly protective Land Use Designations are proposed for intact watersheds and fish habitat within them.
- The impacts of development activities on fish habitat will be conducted at the project-specific level rather than on a cumulative basis.
- Road densities in some areas of the Tongass may exceed National Marine Fishery Service prescriptions for the maintenance of properly functioning watersheds.
“We would like see a lot more of the F-word, in this document,” said Bristol. “F as in fish. There’s tons of talk of timber in there but not nearly enough information and analysis to show that everything possible is being done to preserve and protect salmon, steelhead and trout.”
That omission aside, Trout Unlimited Staff believes the DEIS does offer a starting point for the meaningful discussion of strategies which will guarantee the long-term well-being of abundant salmon and trout populations in the region.
“We are determined to work with the Forest Service and other stakeholders throughout the public comment period,” said Bristol. “We also stand ready to engage in other forums such as the Tongass Futures Roundtable in order to craft better, stronger protections for the high-value fish producing watersheds of the Tongass.”