Tongass Rainforest

Protecting ~2.5 million Acres of At-Risk Tongass Rainforest

In 2008, Geos Institute was part of a team of scientists from the Society for Conservation Biology that asked the newly minted Obama Administration to protect the Tongass rainforest as a carbon and wildlife refuge. At our mutual urging, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack mentioned in his speech at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (2010) the importance of the Tongass in sequestering up to 8 percent of the nation’s forest carbon annually. Secretary Vilsack continued his interest in the Tongass by announcing in July 2013 that a transition out of old-growth logging would take place, but not for another 10–15 years while old-growth logging would serve as an economic “bridge” to previously cut young growth not yet available for re-harvest.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service has put forth controversial old-growth timber sales that routinely get litigated by conservation groups and local mills are starving for wood. The Forest Legacies program has been working with diverse participants on a project designed to accelerate the transition out of old-growth logging by solving for economic uncertainties created by transition.

Scientist urge Congress to back off roadless rule

By Kevin Gullufsen

Originally published January 28, 2018 05:58 am at the Juneau Empire

Tongass old growth, aquatic life put at stake by spending bill, they say

A group of 220 natural resource scientists urged Congress with a joint letter Friday not to eliminate the so-called “roadless rule” on Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach national forests.

The letter comes in response to two proposed changes U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, attached to an Interior Department spending bill in November that hasn’t yet passed. One provision exempts the Tongass and Chugach from prohibitions on road construction and timber harvesting in certain areas of the national forests.

Another section overturns protections in the Forest Service’s Tongass Management Plan for valuable old-growth timber. The plan instead charts a path toward logging younger tree stands.

Overturning these protections, the scientists write, would threaten salmon runs and the Tongass’ ability to store carbon and mitigate climate change.

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200+ scientists urge vote against Tongass rider

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

More than 200 scientists urged Congress in a letter today to protect the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from increased logging of old-growth trees, an issue that's in the background of budget negotiations in the Senate.

The 220 researchers, mainly from universities and nonprofit organizations, spoke out against proposals by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to exempt the Tongass and Chugach national forests from rules limiting road construction in national forests and to slow the Forest Service's transition to younger-growth timber in the Tongass.

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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.

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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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