Protect the Tongass: Keep Our Public Lands Public


The Tongass National Forest is our home.

The public lands of the Tongass are important for all Americans, but theyre essential for those of us who live here. This is where our families hunt, fish, gather food, and work on the land in ways that just aren't possible anywhere else in the country.

But Senator Murkowski wants to privatize it.

Senator Murkowski has introduced a suite of devastating bills that would:

  • Roll back the 2016 Tongass Plan Amendment and ramp up old growth clearcut logging in our forests;
  • Repeal the Roadless Rule in Alaska. This would put intact stands of important old growth habitat at risk of clearcutting, threaten crucial salmon and wildlife habitat, and burden taxpayers with the exorbitant cost of roadbuilding in these remote areas;
  • Require the government to buy back degraded lands from corporations that clearcut the forest;
  • Require the Forest Service to trade worthless gravel and rock beneath clearcut land for pristine forests with high value timber and very high value rare-earth metal mining rights;
  • Bypass the normal process of appraisal and result in a major loss for taxpayers and the American public;
  • Privatize thousands of acres of the Tongass National Forest.

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Showing 67 reactions

  • Joyce Halter
    commented 2018-10-14 15:53:39 -0800
  • john crawford
    commented 2018-09-15 06:27:16 -0800

    You must not privatize the public lands in the Tongass and open them to logging. It is a short sited decision that is morally incorrect and is going to have devastating effects on the ecology and landscape of the Tongass. Clear cutting causes land slides, especially in places that receive as much rain as the Tongass. Please back away from the Tongass and leave it public. Have conscience please and do the right thing, leave the Tongass public and do not open it to logging.


    John Crawford
  • Tori Hillenbrand
    commented 2018-09-11 16:46:34 -0800
  • Marian Ahler
    commented 2018-08-05 07:46:36 -0800
  • Henry Westmoreland
    commented 2018-07-17 04:00:31 -0800
    Please oppose any attempt to privatize parts of the Tongass National Forest. Reinstate the Roadless Rule to protect remaining old growth forest, habitat for salmon, eagle and other wildlife. Insist on accurate appraisal of any non-old growth timber that is cut without clearcutting. Do not allow this irreplaceable resource, one of only five remaining old growth temperate rainforests on earth, to be sold off at a loss. The loss would be far more than the taxpayers’ money.
  • Jennifer Dever
    commented 2018-03-22 15:21:41 -0800
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    I emplore you to reconsider this plan to privatize the Tongass Forest and repeal the Roadless Rule – this would be a terrible mistake. Please save this highly sensitive ecosystem from the perils of habitat destruction that are certain to follow these changes. This forest best serves the long-term needs of Alaska and he United States as an in-tact, preserved forest. Don’t be shortsighted. Don’t rob the future children of this unique resource!

    Kind Regards,

    Jennifer Dever

    Concerned citizen of the USA
  • Jennifer Dever
    commented 2018-03-22 15:21:40 -0800
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    I emplore you to reconsider this plan to privatize the Tongass Forest and repeal the Roadless Rule – this would be a terrible mistake. Please save this highly sensitive ecosystem from the perils of habitat destruction that are certain to follow these changes. This forest best serves the long-term needs of Alaska and he United States as an in-tact, preserved forest. Don’t be shortsighted. Don’t rob the future children of this unique resource!

    Kind Regards,

    Jennifer Dever

    Concerned citizen of the USA
  • Sherry Bottoms
    commented 2018-03-21 19:19:14 -0800
    Dear Lisa, We really need to leave these trees for future generations to see the beauty of this place and to protect the salmon runs. Yours truly, Sherry
  • Jacob Serka
    commented 2018-03-16 12:26:18 -0800
    What happens when the future generations don’t get the chance to indulge in alaska heritage? After all our surroundings and wildlife define us as a state. I’m 16yrs of age and I do not want to see our Alaskan salmon being mistreated in our home. I’ve been fishing ever since I can remember and it would kill me if I wasn’t able to catch Wild Alaskan salmon. Pls rethink this situation, for the sake of me and my fellow Alaskans. Thank you.
  • Pearl Mast
    commented 2018-03-12 10:44:53 -0800
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    My husband and I live in Arizona, but we have made repeated trips to the magnificent waterways of the Tongass National Forest in coastal Southeast Alaska.

    We have spent a lot of money on these trips to SE Alaska, and virtually all that money was spent on Alaska-owned transportation companies, and in the communities of SE Alaska.

    Therefore we were dumbfounded to learn that Alaska’s own senator would be proposing the further degradation of the forests of Tongass National Forest by allowing increased privatization of the Tongass, and increased clearcutting at taxpayer expense.

    This cannot be in the long-term interest of the citizens of SE Alaska, who depend heavily on tourist money. I can certainly say that the further trips we were already planning to SE Alaska would be affected by this kind of short-sighted activity.

    Please reconsider.


    Pearl Mast
  • Robert Pollitto
    commented 2018-03-11 17:01:41 -0800
    Protect the Tongass from logging.
  • Nancy Pollitto
    commented 2018-03-11 17:00:53 -0800
    Protect the Tongass from logging.
  • Noel Stoll
    commented 2018-03-11 16:59:51 -0800
    Protect the Tongass from logging.
  • Daurie Pollitto
    followed this page 2018-03-11 16:58:53 -0800
  • Daurie Pollitto
    commented 2018-03-11 16:58:36 -0800
    Protect the Tongass from logging.
  • Daurie Pollitto
    commented 2018-03-11 16:57:05 -0800
    Protect the Tongass, all public lands, and national forests from logging and from corrupt government deals.
  • Abe Levy
    commented 2018-03-11 08:36:27 -0800
    Please stop any effort to damage any existing wilderness in Alaska on federal lands which do not currently allow that. I will never visit Alaska again (after 4 trips so far) if this bill is passed or any damage done to the ANWR. My wife is a travel agent and has committed to stop sending any clients to Alaska if any damage is done to the Tongass NF or ANWR.
  • Charles Bingham
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-03-08 23:29:44 -0900
    Protect the Tongass
  • Charles Bingham
    @cwbingham3 tweeted link to this page. 2018-03-08 23:29:39 -0900
  • Charles Bingham
    commented 2018-03-08 23:29:25 -0900
    We need to stop old-growth logging, while we still have old-growth timber. The 2006 Tongass Transition Plan focuses on second-growth timber, while protecting salmon and deer habitat, supporting local economies (timber is processed in Alaska instead of sent overseas for processing), and is better for the environment. This plan was negotiated by just about all of the stakeholders, and you guys keep circumventing it.
  • Joan McBeen
    commented 2018-03-08 10:30:48 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    Please do the right thing for the Tongass and withdraw your amendments to the budget bill which would severely affect your constituents in Southeast Alaska. We depend on this magnificent land for our physical and emotional nourishment and need to protect one of the few old growth forests in America.


    Joan McBeen

    PO Box 23

    Tenakee Springs, AK 99841.
  • David Davidson
    commented 2018-03-08 04:04:29 -0900
    What are you crazy? This is the 21st century and time to stop all this development nonsense, otherwise the environment won’t be able to support people. Use your head and stop trying to tear down what is already protected. Stop this madness.
  • Blake LaPerriere
    commented 2018-03-07 18:40:38 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    I am sixteen years old and I live in Sitka, Alaska. My family puts a huge priority in subsistence living and most of the protein I’ve ever eaten is from the forest and the surrounding waters.

    I have spent so much time in old growth forest. It has helped shape who I am and it is incredibly important to me to see this forest preserved. I want my children and grandchildren to experience old growth forest.

    I am wholly opposed to any rollbacks to Tongass preservation. I am also wholly opposed to Tongass land privatization. I want to see this amazing forest to stay untouched for generations. I am sure that Tongass land privatization and rollbacks of preservation measures will not help the Tongass.

    Think about the legacy that you will be leaving. Do you want our kids and grandkids to like you for preserving the Tongass or despise you for promoting logging?

    Furthermore, my generation is going to be of voting age soon, and we don’t like logging. We go for preservation. We won’t vote for pro-logging Senators and Representatives and they will not stay in power.

    Please consider my thoughts. Reconsider your views on this issue.

    Thank you. Blake LaPerriere
  • Ann Robinson
    commented 2018-03-07 17:10:28 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    I understand your desire to bring jobs and livelihoods to your constituents through use of the Tongass. However, I encourage you to strongly reconsider your position. I lived in Kake, Alaska last summer, and saw the legacy of timber harvests across Kupreanof- large swaths of forest cut and barely any healthy new growth, 30 years on. People need a livelihood built on sustainability and cooperation with the natural world, not simply degradation and destruction. Alaskan’s pride ourselves on our state’s iconic beauty- it has become a cultural value in itself- one that should be shared with the world through tourism. Not only that, but the public lands you wish to privatize provide food, cultural value, and recreational opportunities for thousands of Alaskans. This is to say nothing of the inherent value of undisturbed landscapes. PLEASE find it in your heart to value places, people, our world for something other than its ability to exchange for dollars. You may feel it in the best interest of those you represent, but in changing legislation protecting the Tongass you are robbing those you seek to support of a resource unmatched for in its cultural significance, and potential as a tool for education and empowerment. RECONSIDER!!!


    Ann Robinson
  • Dolores Farrell
    commented 2018-03-07 15:36:16 -0900
    The move to repeal the 2016 Tongass plan defies all principles of conservation and preservation!
  • Grace Strong
    commented 2018-03-07 15:16:55 -0900
    Oppose privatization and land trades in the Tonga’s.
  • Ginny Olney Olney
    commented 2018-03-07 14:57:49 -0900
    Senator Murkowski,

    Here we are again with another important subject on our plate. The protection of the Tongass is not just an Alaskan concern. It is a worldwide concern. We are all aware that radioactive water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean at an alarming rate with no end in sight. We are also aware that our own Navy is conducting testing in the Gulf of Alaska which threatens the same Pacific Ocean and the life within and nearby.. We are aware of an island of plastic floating around in that same ocean, dead zones, ocean acidification, and I could go on. But the point is that we here in Alaska must take a stand because these problems will not go away on their own & if we are to survive and thrive on this magnificent earth, there is no time to waste. The Tongass is big, a big source of oxygen and a big carbon remover.. Please protect our Tongass with its awesome , unparalleled old growth trees. They have a job to do and you have a job to do. Our lives depend on them and you.

    Thank-you. Please protect and listen to your Alaskan constituents, including the ones who are too young to write you but who breathe to live. Ginny Olney SITKA
  • Lynn Wilbur
    commented 2018-03-07 14:48:19 -0900
    Your wish to privatize our forest land is not shared by Alaskans. You need to get back on track and recognize that you work for us, not for corporations.
  • Lynn Wilbur
    commented 2018-03-07 12:19:51 -0900
    The people of Alaska have spoken, we value the roadless rule and the protection of old growth in the Tongass. Southeast Alaskans have overwhelmingly showed their support for local businesses and small mill operators over clear-cutting to the benefit of overseas corporations. You are out of touch with your constituency, and you’d better get back on track.
  • Marian Allen
    commented 2018-02-20 03:34:29 -0900
    Marian Allen, 907-738-1970

    829 Pherson St

    Sitka AK 99835

    February 18, 2018

    The Honorable Mike Lee

    Subcmte Chairman

    Subcmte on Public Lands, Forests and Mining

    U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Cmte

    Washington, DC 20510

    The Honorable Ron Wyden

    Subcmte Ranking Member

    Subcmte on Public Lands, Forests and Mining

    U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Cmte

    Washington, DC 20510

    Re: Testimony for the February 7, 2018 Subcommittee Meeting

    Dear Chairman Lee and Ranking Member Wyden,

    I am speaking to Sections 10, 11, 5 and 6 of S1481 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Improvement Act of 2017 but the general comments I make may apply to other parts of it as well. There are many reasons this is a bill that will harm the economic, spiritual and recreational life of SE Alaskans and American citizens, and it will hurt the planet. I want to make several points.

    Point #1

    No privatization of public lands! According to the Juneau Empire, February 19, 2016, “A 2006 estimate found the Tongass has the carbon equivalent of 8 percent of the Lower 48’s national forests’ carbon reserves put together. Now, that appears to be an underestimate. The Tongass, said U.S. Forest Service research soil scientist David D’Amore, has ‘definitely some of the highest (carbon stores) in the world’ per unit area. ‘I hesitate to say ‘the highest,’ because there are some forests in Indonesia that are pretty high, but we are in the top five,’ he said.” I’d say the Tongass is a hugely valuable bank account if left to thrive as a forest.

    Giving land to corporations that must make a profit results in massive clear-cut logging. That releases carbon into the atmosphere. It hurts our world. We can no longer put off taking action to mitigate climate change. In Alaska we see the ocean warming up; the “blob” (an area of warm water) off the coast of Southeast Alaska was a result of climate change; the ocean is becoming more acidic; the tundra is thawing; Arctic ice is no longer as thick or extensive as it was just a few years ago, and so villages have to move (and no funding for them to do that). We see climate change here. We cannot deny it if we are at all observant and thoughtful, and if we understand that weather does not equal climate.

    Point #2

    Public lands are available for all to use to support their culture, lifestyle, and spirituality. S1481, would privatize up to 175,000 acres of the Tongass. This land would go to private for-profit corporations whose legal mandate is to do their best to maximize profits to provide a dividend for their shareholders. In the Tongass that means cutting timber. Once the forest is gone, it negatively impacts the culture, lifestyle, and spiritualty of all of us, Native and non-Native alike. It also takes away that land’s ability to produce revenue until the regrowth is large enough for harvest again, a minimum of 60 years on the most productive land, but 100 or more years for most. In addition, this land will never regain the Old Growth characteristics needed for deer winter survival. In the long term, no one benefits when the old growth is gone and we local people can’t access key areas of local use and subsistence. The American citizens who own this land cannot enjoy its pristine beauty and bounty either. On Mitkof Island, a friend recounted to me watching his favorite hunting places being clear cut in the late 1960s, and to this day they are no longer viable to hunt in. The north facing streams in upper Tenakee Inlet are critical for salmon reproduction because they are dark and the snow pack above them maintains a consistent water flow for salmon spawning. The health of salmon spawning areas is critical for the health of our rainforest and its ecosystems, our culture, and an important food source locally, nationally and internationally. Southeast Alaska is salmon country. Hoonah Sound, another area available for privatization under 1481, is an area used by many Sitkans for subsistence and recreational uses as well as by commercial fishermen and tour guides. The results of privatizing more of the Tongass are not a formula for sustained wellbeing of the people of SE Alaska, the ecosystems of Southeast Alaska or the planet. 

    Point #3

    The economics of Southeast Alaska have moved into the 21st Century. Our primary economic drivers are tourism and commercial fishing, as well as subsistence activities, all of which are harmed by industrial scale logging. Fish streams are negatively impacted. Clear cut areas cannot be accessed for hunting and gathering or for hiking and are an eyesore for sightseers. The timber industry provides less than 1% of the revenue of the region. Industrial scale clear cut logging has always required subsidizing because of our geography. The only way that companies make any profit is by shipping logs out in the round, minimizing the economic benefit for local jobs and even US jobs as often they are sent to Asia. What is sustainable in our region are small “mom and pop” operations that provide local needs and value added processing. This is not what results from the Native for-profit corporations. The regional corporation, Sealaska, has been the worst steward of our land, hurting their very own shareholders’ ability to provide their subsistence foods.

    The economics of the Native corporations is also poor. The land that is their “bank account” disappears for a number of generations very quickly when they clear cut their timber. Many of the corporations have failed, and even at their best they have rewarded a small number of people disproportionately while leaving the majority of shareholders with little to show for the destruction of their traditional food sources. Sitka’s corporation, Shee Atika, is included in sections 6 and 7 of this bill because the land they clear cut decades ago is now worthless for a very long time, if not forever. Their management has rewarded itself at the expense of their shareholders and now wants the government to buy back their land. Many shareholders are opposed to losing their land. Recently I saw a sign in a car window in downtown Sitka urging other shareholders to speak up to save their land. The corporate model has not worked in addressing the claims of Natives for land that was theirs for thousands of years before Contact. Perhaps addressing redress to the tribes rather than creating corporations would create a better solution.

    Point #4

    When ANCSA was signed into law not all communities were included. Those Natives who did not join one of the urban corporations still were shareholders in the regional corporation; for Southeast Alaska that is Sealaska. Due to their landless status, they receive higher dividends than members of urban corporations. That fact is one that should be taken into consideration in any kind of settlement.

    One community included in the “Landless Claim” does not belong there. Studies have shown that there are no grounds for including Tenakee in the Landless group of communities. There is no history of a Native population with a settlement there, and that community has come out clearly opposing establishment of a corporation there. Not a single member of that corporation would reside in the town.

    I do support some resolution for most of the communities left out, but what does not make sense is handing over many acres of land for corporations to destroy using a failed model. What makes more sense is to protect that land to allow the continuation of spiritual activities and traditional food harvesting, both central to the survival of these important cultures. This could be done by paying the monetary value of the land into a fund that would be managed to provide a yearly dividend to its shareholders or tribal members. The land would receive a designation that would protect it in perpetuity for traditional uses. It would remain public, but recognized as the land of that tribe. In the future, should carbon credits become a reality, the value of the land could greatly increase, but if the fund were managed well it would help support traditional lifestyles without that as well. This may not be the solution, but it is time to think creatively and resolve this issue in a non-destructive way, both to the environment and the people.

    Point #5

    Again, I oppose the privatization of public lands to give Native Vietnam Veterans their own parcels of land for several reasons. The principal one is that of the role that the Tongass plays in climate change as I discussed above. In addition, I ask, why are Native Vietnam Vets singled out for land and the non-Native Vietnam Vets not included? There are many non-Native Vets who are lifelong Alaskans and have not known another home. Just omit this provision altogether.


    In general, my comment is that ANCSA was a final land settlement when it was passed in 1971. In 2014 Senator Murkowski said the bill she submitted to Congress, and which passed giving Sealaska more land, was the final resolution. Ms Murkowski just wants to keep chipping away at privatizing the public land in Southeast Alaska for resource extraction, which ignores the successful and, if managed correctly, sustainable economic drivers here today. Maintaining the Tongass in public ownership allows residents and all Americans to use it for many sustainable purposes, and it protects many ecosystems that help mitigate climate change.

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