Today the US Department of Agriculture announced a new vision for forest management in Southeast Alaska that will halt large-scale old growth timber sales on the Tongass National Forest and focus management resources to support forest restoration, recreation, and resilience. The USDA also announced it will be consulting with Alaska Native Tribes and collaborating with partners in Southeast Alaska to implement this new vision. This new strategy goes along with the USDA’s plan for a new rulemaking plan that will fully reestablish the Roadless Rule on the Tongass.
The Tongass National Forest is the world’s last intact temperate rainforest and our nation’s largest national forest. The Tongass contains old-growth forests that are integral as a natural climate solution and intricately connected to the health of our salmon watersheds. These lands and waters provide more long-term value, economically and culturally, than what can be extracted from unsustainable old-growth logging practices—and they have done so for 10,000 years.
This decision by the USDA underscores how important the Tongass is as a climate resilient forest, and recognizes the input from Tribes, city municipalities, fishermen, tourism operators, small-scale wood workers, and local community members who have mobilized over the past three years to advocate for intact watersheds and old growth forests here in Southeast Alaska.
We at the Sitka Conservation Society are excited by this news and grateful to all who made it possible. We want to thank Secretary Tom Vilsack, the USDA, and the Biden Administration for having the clarity of vision to steer the Forest Service towards more responsible management; thank you to tribes and communities who wrote letters and issued resolutions; and thank you to our supporters and community members who have showed up year after year, written letters, made phone calls, sent emails, asked questions, and spoken out! We could not have made it here without you.
Stay tuned for more Tongass updates, including those on the new Roadless rulemaking plan!
Read the full USDA press release here: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/07/15/usda-announces-southeast-alaska-sustainability-strategy-initiates
Photos by Wild Agency.