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.