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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- Letter to CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality), OMB (Office of Management and Budget), and the U.S. Department of State
- Press Release
- Final EIS would end Tongass old-growth logging in 16 years, GreenWire article published July 5, 2016 (don't have a subscription? You can read the article here)
- Forest Service announces changes to Tongass plan, Juneau Empire (June 30, 2016)
- TLMP amendment draft decision announced, KRBD radio (June 30, 2016)
- My Turn: Tongass logging transition doesn't do enough for old growth or timber jobs, Juneau Empire (July 7, 2016)