Dear Wisconsin Friends:
Greetings from Sitka, Alaska in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. I hope that you can all get up here to visit sometime and see what an amazing place it is. You should definitely come and visit too because most of the land around here you own. That's right, it is almost all public lands in the National Forest system so it is essentially yours!
The town that I have been living in for the last 6 years since I left Wisconsin is right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. We have the ocean in front of town and mountains rising up in back. There are an infinite number of bays, fjords, island, and coves. It is a lot like the boundary waters area but with bigger mountains, temperate rainforests, salt water, and whales, sea lions, seals, killer whales, Brown Bears, and some glaciers. Most importantly, there are salmon!
The big issue I am working on right now is on protecting and restoring the Salmon on the Tongass. They were really damaged by awful and devastating clear-cut logging over the last few decades. This logging really impacted the ecosystems here and they are still healing. We are working diligently to restore the salmon streams. This is especially critical because my community and all the other communities in Southeast Alaska, depend on the salmon that come from the Forest. Commercial fishing, charter fishing, and subsistence fishing are all really important and is a core part of our way-of-life here.
The problem we are trying to fix right now is that the Forest Service is still spending about $30Million a year on timber harvest even through there is only about 150 jobs in timber. The fisheries and watershed budget on the Tongass, which is tasked with protecting and restoring salmon habitat, only gets $1.5 Million dollars, even though it employs over 4000 people. We want that funding to switch. We don't want all timber harvest to go away… there is room for some logging. But the Tongass National Forest is really best managed to produce salmon.
I know that everyone in Wisconsin loves fish and I hope that you eat our Wild Alaska salmon. If you have, it probably comes from the Tongass.
I want to ask you to help us by writing to your Senator Kohl. He is on the committee that oversees that Forest Service budget. Next Thursday, he is going to be asking questions to the Forest Service chief. You can help us here by writing to the Senator and asking him to ask the Forest Service chief when they are going to shift funding on the Tongass to management for Salmon.
This would be an immense help for us and I think this is entirely doable. And I'll also promise that if we are successful and your senator asks the Chief about the Tongass, I'll come back to Wisconsin with a big cooler full of salmon and we'll have a salmon Bar-be-Que at the church.
WRITE TO WISCONSIN SENATOR KOHL HERE: http://kohl.senate.gov/contact.cfm
If you write a letter, please send me a copy (make sure to put your address on it) so we can keep track and deliver them to him when fishermen from Alaska go to Washington to ask for this same budget shift. [email protected]
Here are some of the main points to mention:
- Over 35% of Salmon caught in the United States are born and spawn on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
- Salmon fishing provides about six times as many jobs in the in the Tongass as the timber industry
- The Forest Service spends about $25 million on timber programs in the Tongass compared to $1.5 million on salmon stream restoration projects; those numbers need to be switched
- Senator Kohl is on the Budget Committee that oversees that National Forest Budget. He will be asking questions to the Forest Service chief on Thursday Febuary 17th. Tell Senator Kohl to ask the Forest Service chief when they are going to start to manage the Tongass for Salmon
You can get more information here: http://archive.sitkawild.org/2012/01/action-alert-make-salmon-a-priority-updated/