November 20, 2017
Contact: Austin Williams, Trout Unlimited, (907) 227-1590
PRESS KIT AVAILABLE: including b-roll footage, photos and interview footage about the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan at this link.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Important salmon-producing areas threatened in proposed rollback of Tongass National Forest Plan Amendment
New measure by Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) would undo public process for conservation measures within countrys largest National Forest
JUNEAU, AK Today, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) included a rider on the Senate Interior and Environment appropriations bill to roll back the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan (TLMP) and repeal important measures for conserving more than 70 salmon and trout streams within Southeast Alaskas 17 million acre Tongass National Forest.
The Tongass plan amendment is the product of several years of collaboration by Alaskans from across the political spectrum that were able to overcome their differences and form a shared vision for the Tongass based on tourism, fishing and sustainable young-growth forest products, said Austin Williams, Alaska Legal and Policy Director for Trout Unlimited. It is disheartening that Senator Murkowski is turning her back to the thousands of Alaskans that support the Tongass plan amendment and threatening to return the region to the conflict and divisiveness of the past. The Tongass plan amendment was created by Alaskans that decided to work together and cooperate so that all could benefit, and should not be cast aside through a closed-door process in Congress.
The Tongass plan amendment is the culmination of a multi-year, community-supported process in which more than 7,200 Alaskans voiced support for protecting high-value fish and wildlife habitat. It is based on the unanimously-adopted recommendations of the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC), which was comprised of representatives from the logging industry, the State of Alaska, Alaska Native tribes and corporations, municipal leaders, and conservation organizations convened to move the Tongass National Forest away from the conflict around old-growth logging and work toward sustainable harvest of young-growth timber.
The Tongass plan amendment is central to ensuring the regions important fishing and tourism industries continue to thrive and grow into the future, said Mark Kaelke, Southeast Alaska Program Manager for Trout Unlimited. We commend the Forest Service for developing a plan amendment that balances the diverse interests at play in the region, and encourage Senator Murkowski to respect the public process, years of dialogue, and compromise that went into this plan by allowing it to remain in effect.
This bill has not gone through a committee mark up. It will likely be included in the debate over the delayed Congressional decision on how to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year 2018. Trout Unlimited and our salmon conservation allies will be working hard to ensure that it does not become law, along with several other harmful riders that were included in the bill.
The Tongass is the nations largest National Forest, producing hundreds of millions of wild salmon each year that support thriving commercial and sport fishing industries. Salmon fishing accounts for 10% of all regional employment and contributes $1 billion annually to the local economy. Visitors from all over the world come to see the Tongass and support a booming travel industry accounting for another 15% of regional employment and another $1 billion in economic activity.
Trout Unlimited is the nations oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the states trout and salmon resources remain healthy far into the future through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TUs Tongass efforts on Facebook, and visit us online at tu.org. Learn more about our work to conserve key areas of the Tongass National Forest at www.americansalmonforest.org
Photo above by Earl Harper