By Owen Graham
December 26, 2012
Last month Sitnews published a “Viewpoint” that complained about perceived fish and wildlife concerns with the Tonka timber sale. I did a little research and am happy to report that those concerns are unfounded.
The Viewpoint stated that loss of low-elevation winter habitat is one of the greatest threats to deer populations. Deer get along fine in the young growth stands, despite alarmist theories about deep snows and lack of browse, but those issues are irrelevant for the Lindenberg Peninsula because after decades of logging, more than 80% of the productive old-growth timber is still untouched and much of that old-growth is in wilderness and other congressionally mandated land set-asides. Others have noted that areas adjacent to the Lindenberg Peninsula that have no past logging have similar or even lower deer numbers.
The ADF&G reports that deer populations in Game Unit 3 (which includes the Lindenberg Peninsula) has declined following three severe winters, just like deer populations declined in the late 1960s and early 1970s following a series of severe winters, but that was before timber harvesting took place on the Lindenberg Peninsula. The ADF&G also reports that wolf populations are very high in this area and is recommending removal of 80% of the wolves to allow deer populations to increase.
The Viewpoint also complained that there are reportedly 38 culverts that are blocking fish passage and degrading fish habitat in the project area. However, most “red” fish pipes do not block fish passage, rather they are culverts that were installed in conformance with a prior fish passage standard and do not completely comply with the current fish passage standard. The Tonka EIS states that “…95% of the red fish crossings in the project area had fish present upstream, indicating the culverts are allowing passage at most flows and are not complete barriers”. The Tonka Timber sale will bring loggers to the area that will perform the road maintenance on their logging roads and, if the agency desires, will also be able to upgrade “red” culverts to the new fish passage standard.
Received December 26, 2012 - Published December 26, 2012
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