SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By David Beebe


January 29, 2008

The recent Record of Decision (ROD) for the court-ordered Amendment to the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) has been signed by Regional Forester, Dennis Bschor.

The Amendment was required to correct the failings of the Forest Service, violating the National Environmental Policy Act (on three counts), and one count of violating the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

In the words of the court: "The Forest Service's error in assessing market demand fatally infected its balance of economic and environmental considerations, rendering the Plan for the Tongass arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA."

Now that the ROD has ben signed, we all have an opportunity to examine its original rationale finalized in the 1997 Plan (still in effect). The rationale for maintaining viable and well-distributed populations of wildlife is explained in the ROD with this statement:

"(The) Forest Plan will provide an amount and distribution of habitat adequate to maintain viable populations of vertebrate species in the planning area and will maintain the diversity of plant and animal communities. That conclusion is based in large part on viability risk assessments prepared by panels of experts for the 1997 Plan." ( pg. 19 ROD TLMP Amendment, signed by Dennis Bschor, January 23, 2008)

There is at least one panel of experts that was completely ignored by the Forest Service. They made comments, both in response to the Revised Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RSDEIS) and the Final version. What follows are excerpts of this distinguished panel of scientists, commenting first, on the RSDEIS, and lastly, on the Final version of TLMP.

Here's what they said:

Joint Statement Of Peer Review Committee Members On Tongass National Forest Planning For Old Growth Associated Wildlife Species:
(Section titles from review of October 1996)

I. The Best Available Science Establishes A Substantial Risk To The Viability Of Wildlife Associated With Old Growth Forests In Southeast Alaska

II. None Of The RSDEIS Action Alternatives Include Measures Which Would Ensure The Continued Viability Of All Old Growth Associated Wildlife On The Tongass.

III. Deferring Adoption Of An Effective Plan To Ensure Viability Of Wildlife Populations Entails serious Risks To Tongass Wildlife.

IV. The Forest Service Should Consider New Alternatives That Address The Full Array Of Necessary Conservation Measures.

Here's what that same panel had to say about the Final version of the TLMP 97:

(excerpted below)

"The Forest Service requested the formation of our committee to conduct an
independent review of the conservation measures related to wildlife habitat then being
considered by the Forest Service as it planned the land management for the Tongass National

"Concern that the wildlife measures in the Forest Service's proposal failed to respond
effectively to scientific input led us to submit in the fall of 1996 a Joint Statement regarding the RSDEIS." (cited above)

"The final Land Management Plan for the Tongass National Forest does not incorporate the
recommendations of the Peer Review or other scientific input in fundamental ways.
Consequently, we do not believe that this Plan will protect viable, well distributed populations of vertebrate species on the Tongass National Forest.

Signed by:

Roger A. Powell, Ph.D.
Department of Zoology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617

Dale R. McCullough, Ph.D.
Department of Forestry and
Resource Management
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-0001

Andrew J. Hansen, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

Russell Lande, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1210

William Z. Lidicker, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Integrative Biology
and Curator of Mammals
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720

Robert L. Jarvis, Ph.D.
Professor of Wildlife Ecology
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331

John T. Ratti, Ph.D.
Department of Fish and
Wildlife Resources
University of Idaho
Moscow, ID 83843

Richard D. Taber, Ph.D.
Forest Zoology and Wildlife Science
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812

Paul C. Paquet, Ph.D.
Central Canadian Rockies
Wolf Ecology Project
Meacham, Sask. SOK 2V0

Christopher C. Smith, Ph.D.
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506

Craig R. Benkman, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003

(September 1997)

David Beebe
Petersburg, AK

About: "I am a resident of the Tongass and have been a commercial fisherman for the last 24 years. I have followed closely the timber management issues on the Tongass National Forest."

Received January 28, 2008 - Published January 29, 2008


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Forest Service releases the new Tongass National Forest plan By M.C. Kauffman - More than 3 million acres in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the largest in the country at nearly 17 million acres, will be opened to logging, mining and road building under the new 2008 Tongass Land Management Plan released Friday. - More...

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Ketchikan, Alaska