By Marc Heller, originally published on August 22, 2019 at E&E News
More than 100 people who operate commercial fishing boats in southeast Alaska urged the Trump administration not to ease limits on logging in roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest, saying opening those areas could negatively affect salmon.
In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen yesterday, the fishing operators asked officials to delay releasing a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Alaska roadless rule until October, citing the industry’s busy summer season.
“We depend on the forest, we are important stakeholders, and in the summer we are fully engaged in earning a living. If the comment period occurs during the summer months, we will effectively be precluded from participating,” they said.
In addition, they asked for a roadless rule that “prioritizes protecting and sustaining the Southeast salmon resource and its habitat in perpetuity.” That would include phasing out old growth, clear-cut timber practices, they said.
By Marc Heller, Published August 19, 2019 at E&E News
CRAIG, Alaska — A dwindling deer population is about to become a flashpoint in the debate over easing logging restrictions in the nation’s largest national forest.
Conservationists and Alaska Native tribes say deer — a big part of tribes’ diets — are in decline on Prince of Wales Island in the Tongass National Forest due to past timber industry practices. They plan to make that a rallying cry in uniting tribes against the Trump administration’s proposal to ease limits on logging in roadless areas of the national forest.
“Our deer suffer from logging,” said Clinton Cook Sr., president of the Craig Tribal Council, representing a community of about 400 people. Past clear-cutting created open landscapes where trees regenerated so thickly that deer can’t navigate the woods, a condition called stem exclusion that affects as much as million acres of forest around tribal lands, tribal officials said in an interview at their offices.
By Marc Heller, originally published Friday, August 16, 2019 at E&E News
KETCHIKAN, Alaska — The Trump administration’s trade war with China is hitting Alaska’s timber industry where it may hurt most: in the younger trees that everyone seems to agree are the future of the business.
China’s 20% tariff on U.S. timber is retaliation for similar levies the administration placed on Chinese goods. And while Chinese officials spoke earlier this week of trying to reach a middle ground in the broader trade battle, people close to the timber industry in southeast Alaska say they’re not sure the region’s mills that ship there can quickly recover when the battle settles.
That could throw off plans to transition out of old-growth timber harvesting in the Tongass National Forest, a practice that’s unpopular with conservation and environmental groups, as well as Alaska Native tribes, but maintains support from the state’s political leaders.
Conservationist Dominick DellaSala asks can the Tongass save Alaska?
By Peter Segall, Originally published Friday, August 16, 2019 at The Juneau Empire
Can the Tongass save Alaska from climate chaos?
Dr. Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, asked that question to the small audience of about two dozen gathered in the Mendenhall Valley Library Tuesday evening.
He speaking at at an event hosted by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council about the role that old-growth forest like the Tongass National Forest can play in combating climate change.
Temperate rain forests like the Tongass soak up an incredible amount of carbon and play a pivotal role in keeping the planet’s temperature at sustainable levels. In answer to his own question, DellaSala said that the Tongass can play a part in saving Alaska from climate chaos, so long as it continues to exist in its present state.
That may be a problem as the Alaska’s logging industry is eager to get at the hundreds of thousands of acres of old-growth forest in Southeast. “Old-growth” forests are not simply forests with old trees, but forests with a complex array of features which create a unique ecosystem which have remained mostly undisturbed by humans.
Marc Heller, E&E News reporter
Originally published at E&E News Greenwire, Wednesday, August 14, 2019
KAKE, Alaska — To the 569 residents of this island community in the Tongass National Forest, picking blueberries may offer more promise in the long run than harvesting trees.
So when the Department of Agriculture announced last year that it would consider scrapping rules that protect stands of old-growth forest, they demanded meetings with the agency.
“We said we wanted to be consulted,” said Mike Jackson, a leader with the Organized Village of Kake (OVK), in the tribal offices adorned with Native carvings and paintings. The OVK is a federally recognized tribe and has lived here, 100 miles southeast of Juneau, for generations. The Alaska Natives have seen the forests cut over in decades past.
“This is a huge decision to be making,” he said. “They’re just rolling with it.”
The tension between the Organized Village of Kake and USDA is part of a broader negative reaction in southeast Alaska to the department’s proposal to rewrite rules that protect roadless areas of the Tongass from timber harvest.
By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter, Originally published at E&E News on July 26, 2019
The Forest Service is proposing to open an additional 1,144 acres of the Tongass National Forest to harvesting of young-growth timber, opening a debate about where the transition away from old-growth timber should be focused.
In a proposed amendment to the forest management plan for the Tongass — the nation’s biggest national forest at nearly 17 million acres — the agency said it would allow more harvesting of young growth on a landscape known as moderate-vulnerability karst, which is typically underlain by a soluble rock like limestone.
Moderate-vulnerability karst doesn’t have caves or sinkholes — which are typically found in high-vulnerability karst landscapes — and the Forest Service said those areas can handle management activities such as timber harvesting. In addition, the agency said, regulations have been written in an inconsistent way that would allow cutting of trees in those locations if they were old growth.
“Analysis of old-growth harvest on moderate vulnerability karst has demonstrated that the standards in place were sufficient to maintain the natural processes and productivity of karst lands. This amendment will align the standards for young-growth and old-growth harvest on moderate vulnerability karst,” the Forest Service said in a news release.
Pristine areas must protected from relentless development
Originally published May. 29, 2019 8:00 p.m.at the San Francisco Examiner
The 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Alliance of World Scientists, and #Scientists4Future all warn that if we do not transition away from fossil fuels quickly, climate change will threaten civilization itself in the coming decades. Scientists are now saying that pristine areas, like roadless areas and unlogged forests, can buy us time as we transition to a carbon-free economy but only if protected from relentless development.
Unfortunately, the fate of millions of acres of roadless areas in Alaska and Utah is now at risk from the Trump administration’s efforts to upend one of the nation’s landmark conservation achievements – the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2000. This is coming at a time when we need every wild place to avoid an unprecedent global crisis of 1 million species extinctions, as the authoritative Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services recently warned.
Anyone in the Bay Area who cares about wild spaces ought to be alarmed by the pending extinction crisis and the administration’s efforts to usher in clearcut logging and road building in Alaska’s coastal temperate rainforests and Utah’s roadless forests. Here’s why.
Forest Legacies opens new office in Juneau to protect the Tongass magnificient rainforest
The Geos Institute has been working on the Tongass rainforest for many years as part of its Forest Legacies initiative. Through our work to protect old growth and roadless areas on the Tongass we decided to open an office to increase our presence and reach with decision makers given the Tongass is a world class rainforest and recognized climate sanctuary.
175 South Franklin Street, Suite 320
Juneau, AK, 99801
Published November 20, 2018 (Part one of a series)
By Paul Koberstein and Jessica Applegate
Starting in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the Trump administration is proposing to eliminate long-standing rules protecting 50 million acres of ancient forests across the country from logging and roadbuilding, raising new alarms about the president’s disregard for the climate and wildlife.
Taxpayers, already spending billions to keep Alaska’s timber industry afloat, could end up paying even more. If Trump strips roadless protection from the Tongass, no National Forest is safe.
Keep reading at Cascadia Times
By Dominick DellaSala, John Schoen and John Talberth
Originally published by the Juneau Empire, August 14, 2018
Alaskans are blessed with some of the wildest, most biologically prolific forests on the planet. Nowhere else is this more evident than the Tongass rainforest, the crown jewel of the national forest system. Unfortunately, the State of Alaska announced plans to team up with the Trump Administration to open up millions of acres to logging and road-based developments. This ill-conceived proposal would degrade the region’s pristine character and the foundation of a robust outdoor economy.
The Roadless Conservation Rule of 2001 protected over 58 million acres of the nation’s most remote places. It was the premier conservation achievement of its time that took years of careful deliberation, an unprecedented number of public meetings, over 1 million strongly (more than 95 percent) supportive public comments, and the backing of hundreds of scientists, all of who wanted the Tongass included.
While the Roadless Rule protects intact areas larger than 5,000 acres from logging, it has numerous allowances to include road connections between communities and other state highway projects, access to mining claims under the Mining Law of 1872, and access to utility corridors and hydropower projects. Some 55 projects within roadless areas in Alaska have been rapidly approved by the Forest Service. The Roadless Rule there fore is working in Alaska and plans to gut it are misguided.