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Tongass Advisory Committee Expresses Optimism about Developing Recommendations for the Tongass Transition


February 01, 2015
Sunday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska – The Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) held its fifth meeting in Juneau from January 20-23, 2015. As they worked toward the goal of accelerating the transition from an old growth timber program to one based on young growth, the group made significant progress identifying possible recommendations to amend the current Tongass Land Management Plan. During their deliberations, members identified a potential range of ecological, community, and economic trade-offs necessary in order to accelerate the shift to young growth timber.

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The Committee agreed in concept on strategies to offer increasing amounts of young growth timber by providing flexibility on Forest Plan standards, guidelines, and land use designations. These concepts were deeply informed by critical forest modeling work over the past two months designed by a subcommittee of the TAC focused on where and how to manage young growth. Co-chair of the subcommittee, Wade Zammit, reflected, “I was pleased and excited about the model discussions this week. The hybrids of existing and proposed scenarios offer some refreshing and innovative propositions to improve the transition timeframe and all members are excited to see the outcomes of these additional model runs.” Prior to the Committee’s next meeting, members will populate the draft framework for an alternative, which they will discuss during the February meeting.

The group grappled with the inherent challenge of providing certainty and predictability of timber supply while simultaneously recognizing the political, and in some cases, social pressure to end old growth logging. Even in the face of these significant challenges, the Committee remains optimistic about their ability to work together and provide meaningful recommendations for the transition. TAC member Keith Rush reflected, “I think the group as a whole exceeded any expectations I might have had coming in. Everybody contributed positively, and that is such a great situation to be in when people are focused working toward the same thing. I think we’re almost there and I really have a positive attitude going forward.” Fellow TAC member Chris Maisch agreed, “We’ve made it a long way down this road that we’re on, and we still have a ways to go, but I’m feeling fairly confident that we can get there.”

During the meeting, the Committee heard robust public opinion, including a panel discussion on young growth availability. They express their appreciation to those who attended the meeting and/or provided comment. The group has also received extensive written and oral comments to date, all of which they have reviewed and listened to carefully.

The next Tongass Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for February 17-19, 2015 in Juneau, Alaska. The meeting was originally slated for Petersburg, but was moved to Juneau in order to provide more meeting time and allow participation by a full quorum of TAC members. While they regret that they will not have the ability to visit Petersburg as originally planned, they encourage community members and other members of the public to participate through the public comment process.

Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



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