Tongass Rainforest

Preserving Old Growth Forests while Supporting Livelihoods in the Tongass Rainforest

Recognizing the importance of Tongass old-growth rainforests in sequestering the equivalent of over 8% of the nation’s annual emissions, the US Secretary of Agriculture issued a directive to the Forest Service in 2013 to transition away from old-growth logging and into ‘suitable’ young- growth acres that can support the timber industry in perpetuity. Suitable young-growth acres are those considered to be assessible by currently open Forest Service roads (no road building required) and have relatively low ecological values due to non-regulated pulp and paper harvest regimes that occurred decades ago. With the best information on hand at the time, the directive from the Secretary assumed that it would take at least 16-years of continued old-growth logging to achieve a transition. Since then, Geos Institute has spearheaded innovative research to greatly accelerate the transition to young-growth logging in the next half decade. We focused on defining a pathway to move from a ‘wall of litigation” resulting from continued old-growth logging to a “wall of wood” through suitable young-growth acres available to support industry.

In 2015, we conducted the most intensive in-field timber inventory ever on the Tongass. This resulted in identifying a young-growth transition that could regrow an ecologically and socially responsible forest-products industry in a half decade while protecting millions of acres of at-risk old-growth forests. A year later, we took the lead in helping the Forest Service to secure Congressional funding to inventory over 25,000 acres of suitable young-growth forests that built on our initial results. We are now actively engaged in securing important funding for a Tongass-wide young-growth manufacturing and marketing study to be completed by 2021, a final step in demonstrating how the Forest Service can rapidly transition out of old-growth logging.

In 2019 we opened an office in Juneau to increase our presence and reach with decision-makers.

Old growth, new fight: Tongass timber slows wildfire bill

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published: Friday, January 26, 2018, E&E Newswire

The old-growth timber industry’s fight for survival in Alaska may be complicating congressional efforts to reach a long-term solution to costly wildfires.

Senate aides and lobbyists told E&E News that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s focus on protecting southeast Alaska’s shrinking old-growth timber business is one potential wrinkle as lawmakers balance environmental and forest industry interests in search of a compromise, possibly in a spending bill covering the rest of this fiscal year.

As the Republican chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and often a swing vote on issues in the Senate, Alaska’s senior senator is a key player in the wildfire and forest management debate. She told E&E News on Wednesday she’s still working toward including a wildfire measure in a broader bill but didn’t elaborate.

Murkowski targets roadless rule in spending talks

Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published by E&E on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A fight over road construction in the Tongass National Forest may flare up in spending negotiations.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sponsored a provision in draft Senate appropriations legislation for Interior and related agencies that would exempt Alaska from federal rules that restrict building of roads in national forests.

Murkowski’s move against the “roadless rule” marks another line in a battle that’s been playing out, mainly in federal courts, since the Clinton administration handed down the regulations in 2001.

A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge in September dismissed a lawsuit by Alaska seeking to overturn the rule.

Murkowski, chairwoman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, is also pushing a provision that would slow the Forest Service’s transition from old-growth logging to young-growth logging in Tongass and Chugach national forests.

Old-Growth Logging’s Last Stand?

Clearcutting ancient trees in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest makes little sense—ecologically, climatically, even economically. So why is it so hard to stop?

“I am sensitive to the fact that these are rural communities where every job matters,” said Dominick DellaSala, president of Geos. “That’s why we said, ‘If you go this way, you get a wall of wood. If you go this way, you get a wall of litigation.’ We were trying to help.”

Keep reading the article by Sarah Gilman at bioGraphic

 

Final Tongass logging plan draws mixed reaction

By Scott Streater

Reposted from E&E News on December 9, 2016

The Forest Service has formally approved a much-debated land-use plan amendment that calls for phasing out clearcutting of old-growth trees over a 16-year period in Tongass National Forest.

Some environmentalists criticized the move as not going far enough to protect the nation’s largest forest, while the timber industry is likely to object, as well.

Tongass National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart has finalized a record of decision (ROD) that calls for shifting to young-growth trees in areas that have been previously logged in the nearly 17-million-acre forest in southeast Alaska, according to a notice published in yesterday’s Federal Register.

High Country News Op-Ed: Clearcutting the Tongass National Forest is dead wrong

To avert the worst climate change impacts, old forests and their massive carbon reserves must be protected.

By Thomas E. Lovejoy

Originally published in High Country News on November 17, 2016

In Paris last December, the world turned a major corner on climate change. Some 195 nations agreed on the urgency of the threat. They also agreed to take steps to combat it, including promoting forest protection and reforestation — steps that are necessary, though not in themselves sufficient, if we are to avoid consequences as extreme for our economies and health as they are for the environment.

Geos Institute asks Forest Service to speed up its transition by filing an objection to its logging plans

Objections to Tongass Forest Plan amendment start rolling in

by Aaron Bolton, (originally published in KSTK News)
August 3, 2016 6:00 am

The U.S. Forest Service announced its plan for a 16-year transition toward young-growth Tongass timber harvests in late June. In the midst of the 60-day comment period, industry and environmental groups are starting to submit their objections.

Both the industry and environmental groups on either side of the Tongass Land Management Plan amendment can agree on one thing: the Forest Service needs to complete a full inventory of young-growth Tongass timber.

But their reasons are fundamentally different.

Geos Institute objects to Forest Service plan to log primary rainforest on the Tongass

The Tongass is one of the world’s last great temperate rainforests and is under threat of clearcut logging that will eliminate over 43,000 acres of old growth, mostly in the next 16 years. The logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s climate change policies as it would lead to emissions equivalent of nearly 4 million vehicles annually. There is a better way to transition logging to previously logged and regrown forests that will help save Alaska’s rapidly changing climate and create sustainable timber jobs but only if President Obama steps in to direct the Forest Service’s rogue logging plan.

Read the full objection here in a letter sent July 27, 2016 to the USDA Forest Service

Siuslaw forestry practices offer great example for Tongass

By Dominick DellaSala, Catherine Mater, and Jim Furnish

For The Register-Guard, July 16, 2016

The recent release of the U.S. Forest Service’s old growth logging plans for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest stalls urgent climate change protections and relies on old school forestry.

What happens in the Tongass is important to Oregonians, and the nation, because this national forest absorbs about 8 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution annually — far more than any other forest. And what is happening in the Siuslaw National Forest can inform the Tongass.

The Tongass plan calls for continued old growth logging, mostly over the next 16 years, threatening 43,000 acres of Tongass rainforest. This long time frame will unnecessarily release the equivalent emissions of 4 million vehicles annually over the next 100 years at a time when nations are looking to cut back on carbon pollution.

Tongass logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s climate change policies

The Tongass National Forest is the nation’s carbon champion, storing about 8% of the nation’s annual global warming emissions in its productive old-growth rainforests. The Forest Service proposes to clearcut 43,000 acres of old growth, mostly in the next 16 years. Logging emissions would release the equivalent emissions of 4 million vehicles annually while squandering one of the world’s last relatively intact temperate rainforests.

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