Tongass National Forest Draft Land Management Plan Amendment
Available for Public Comment
November 20, 2015
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today released the Proposed Amended Land and Resource Management Plan (Draft Amendment) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Tongass National Forest for public review and comment. The Tongass National Forest is the nation's largest national forest at 17 million acres, covering most of Southeast Alaska.
The Tongass Land Management Plan is being amended to support a transition from old growth harvest to a young growth-based timber program for the Tongass, recognizing the importance of preserving Southeast Alaska’s exceptional natural resources while also preserving a viable timber industry that provides jobs and opportunities for Southeast Alaska residents. The amendment is also needed to support the development of renewable energy resources in Southeast Alaska.
A tiny glimpse of the Tongass National Forest
Photo courtesy USFS
The Forest Service’s Preferred Alternative - Alternative 5 - is based on the unanimous recommendation of the Tongass Advisory Committee that was established to provide input and advice on the transition to a young growth timber program to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service. Members of the committee represent a broad range of viewpoints, expertise and geographically diverse communities in and outside of Alaska including representatives of local and state government, Alaska Native Corporations, the timber industry, the environmental community, and the public.
The amendment process has a narrow focus and does not include changes to the Tongass conservation strategy, Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River designations, or changes to most land use designations.
Jim Adams, Policy Director for Audubon Alaska, said in a prepared statement, "Audubon Alaska is glad to see that the Forest Service’s preferred alternative protects some of the highest-value conservation lands on the Tongass from the impacts of old-growth clearcutting. Setting aside T77, Audubon/TNC conservation lands, and roadless areas (map) was a unanimous recommendation of the Tongass Advisory Council and would be a step in the right direction for forest management.
"That said, the Forest Service failed to even consider ending old-growth clearcutting quickly enough to protect the Tongass." said Adams. "Portions of the heavily-logged Tongass ecosystem are breaking down, as evidenced by the Prince of Wales Island wolf population crash, but the Forest Service outright refused to discuss ending old-growth clearcutting in five years, as Audubon and many other conservation organizations have advocated," he said. "It is a sign that the Forest Service remains more focused on subsidizing the outdated logging industry on the Tongass than on protecting the ecosystem that is a national treasure as well as the base for the billion-dollar tourism and fishing industries that employ 17,000 people in Southeast Alaska. The Tongass, the people of Southeast Alaska, and Americans would all be best served by putting the conflict and controversy of old-growth clearcutting behind us," Adams said.
Today’s publication of a Notice of Availability of the draft documents in the Federal Register begins the 90-day public comment period on both the Proposed Forest Plan and DEIS. Public meetings and subsistence hearings will be scheduled in many communities during the 90-day comment period. The location and schedule of these public meetings and hearings will be publicized in local newspapers and can be found on the Tongass National Forest website.
The Forest Service said they will carefully review feedback and public comment on the Draft Amendment and DEIS. There will also be an objection process for any unresolved concerns prior to the final decision.
The draft documents (pdf) are available for review and comment online. These documents are also available for viewing at all Tongass Ranger District Offices and the Supervisor’s Office.
Written and electronic comments will be accepted for 90 days ending Feb. 22, 2016. Comments should be submitted to:
Forest Supervisor, Tongass National Forest
Attn: Forest Plan Amendment
648 Mission Street
Ketchikan, AK 99901
Comments may also be sent via email to:
Or Fax to (907) 228-6292
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
On the Web:
November 2015 Proposed Land and Resource Management Plan (Draft Amendment) PDF
November 2015 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) - PDF
Source of News:
USFS - Tongass National Forest
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