August 31, 2008
The forest plan amendment was completed in response to the Tongass National Forest's own five-year plan review, and a Ninth Circuit Court decision in 2005. Bschor signed the record of decision for the amendment on Jan. 23, 2008. He selected Alternative 6 from the Final Environmental Impact Statement, with four modifications. The Forest implemented the plan mid-March, 2008, as allowed.
"We have a management plan on the Tongass designed to help stabilize timber supplies for the many businesses in Southeast Alaska," said Bschor. "The plan also includes our commitment to continue to improve the forests, watersheds, and habitats for wildlife and fisheries, which supports subsistence as well as a growing recreation-based tourism for the region."
"This decision validates the time, energy and effort that the Forest planning team and resource specialists put into digging through the analysis and research to satisfy the Ninth Circuit Court decision," said Tongass Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole. "I'm very eager to finally see a plan for the Tongass get implemented on the ground, so we can get back to the business of managing and caring for the natural and cultural resources across the Forest."
In making the decision, Kimbell instructed the Alaska Region to clarify and document whether the miles of National Forest System roads illustrated in the FEIS include temporary roads, and to be sure the effects of those temporary roads are included in the analysis of environmental effects in future project planning.
Each appellant will receive written notification of the decision by mail. U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell's decision to affirm the forest plan concludes the administrative appeals process.
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