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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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