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New Tongass Forest Supervisor Announced


March 07, 2015
Saturday AM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - New Tongass Forest Supervisor Announced - Beth Pendleton, Regional Forester of Alaska announced Earl Stewart is the new Tongass Forest Supervisor. Stewart replaces Forrest Cole, Forest Supervisor since 2003 who will retire after a 40-year career with the U.S. Forest Service.

jpg Earl Stewart

Earl Stewart, new Tongass Forest Supervisor

jpg Forrest Cole

Forrest Cole, Forest Supervisor since 2003, retiring...
Photo USFS

“I am elated to have Earl serving here in Alaska,” said Pendleton. “Stewart is the perfect choice to lead the Tongass National Forest. He brings a wide range of experience and leadership to this position and has a great understanding of the unique relationships that communities have with their national forests which will suit Alaskans well.”

“I’m excited to join the Alaska Region and begin taking on the responsibilities as the Tongass Forest Supervisor,” said Stewart. “I welcome the opportunity to serve the 33 communities within the Tongass and work with the businesses, organizations and partners that provide services and adventures for a lifetime. I look to embrace our relations with Alaska Native Tribes and Alaskan Natives and personally get to know the dedicated Forest Service employees here in Alaska.”

In a prepared statement Trout Unlimited’s Southeast Alaska project director Mark Kaelke said, “Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program, welcomes Earl Stewart as the new Tongass National Forest Supervisor. Trout Unlimited has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with the Forest Service on the Tongass and we look forward to continuing this relationship with Mr. Stewart. We are encouraged by Stewart’s background as a biologist and his experience leading collaborative restoration projects in other regions of the country that are well suited to meeting the unique needs of southeast Alaska,”

“TU is committed and exited to work with Mr. Stewart and his team at the Forest Service to chart a new path forward that focuses on restoration, recreation, renewable energy and sustainable young-growth forest products,” Kaelke said.

The Tongass, America’s salmon forest, is one of the few places in the world where wild salmon and trout still thrive. The Tongass includes more than 15,700 miles of clean, undammed streams and 4,100 lakes and ponds that provide optimal spawning and rearing conditions for the region’s abundant wild salmon and trout. This vital and vibrant resource serves as the foundation for local cultures and communities.

According to Trout Unlimited, the fishing industries - including commercial, sport and subsistence fishing - are uniquely important to southeast Alaska and account for 10 percent of regional employment. In addition, tourism and recreation are the single largest source of employment from our national forests, accounting for more than 15 percent of regional employment in southeast Alaska. Together, these two industries, which have their foundation in the wild landscapes and many pristine salmon streams of the Tongass, far outpace all other sectors for employment and earnings in the region.

As Stewart steps into his new role in southeast Alaska, his leadership will be a central factor in meeting the needs of these important industries when it comes to decisions and policies that affect future management of the Tongass, stated Trout Unlimited in a news release.

Heather Urban, Senior Campaign Director, Alaska Wilderness League said in a prepared statement, “The wilderness and wildlife values in the Tongass are undeniable, and its fishing and recreation opportunities are off the charts. We look forward to working with Mr. Stewart and the Forest Service on following through with the agency’s pledge to end old-growth logging and prioritize recreation, tourism and fishing, the key economic drivers in southeast Alaska."

Urban said, "For decades the Tongass was home to a government-subsidized old-growth logging machine, but today the top job creators for Tongass communities are sustainable and growing industries like tourism, recreation and fishing. The common thread behind these industries’ success is a healthy, vibrant and intact Tongass."

"The Forest Service commitment to transitioning away from old-growth logging and into sustainable management remains stuck in neutral, and we’re hopeful that new leadership brings renewed urgency to drive this process forward,” said Urban.

At roughly 17 million acres, the Tongass is America’s largest national forest, encompassing the majority of the southeast Alaska Panhandle. It is a place of spectacular beauty and incredible ecological significance, which provides habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon, humpback and orca whales, plus some of the largest concentrations of brown bears and bald eagles in America.

Stewart comes to Alaska from the U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region, and is the Forest Supervisor for the Coconino National Forest based in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has provided leadership on a series of high profile issues including the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area litigation, and the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project among other complex issues and programs.

Stewart graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology in 1985 and worked for the Oklahoma's Department of Wildlife Conservation as a biologist. He joined the Forest Service in 1991 and has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of positions on six national forests in three different regions before coming to the Tongass.

Stewart’s career has spanned across the nation serving as Acting Deputy Regional Forester in the Southwestern Region, Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana, Branch Chief for Strategic Planning and Budget Analysis in the Washington Office, and District Ranger on the Talladega National Forest in Alabama. He also served in the House of Representatives, Committee for Interior Appropriations as a legislative fellow in Washington, D.C.

Stewart's reporting date has not yet been determined; however, he is expected to report in early May.

Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News: 

U.S. Forest Service

Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program

Alaska Wilderness League


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