New Tongass Management Plan Said to Benefit Salmon

Managers of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska
have a new draft management plan that is winning praise for its protections of
salmon habitat.
The alternative selected for the draft plan by the US Forest
Service incorporates Tongass Advisory Committee recommendations to protect
certain watersheds known as the “Tongass 77,” watersheds identified by Trout
Unlimited as having high priority for protection because of their habitat, fish
production and diversity of fish species.
Earl Stewart, supervisor of the 17-million acre forest, said
the advisory committee also recommended protection of conservation priority
areas identified by The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Alaska. Old growth
timber harvests would not be allowed in some of those watersheds, although new
growth harvests would be, he said.
The draft plan is online at
The transition from old growth to new growth harvests of
timber would take place over a 16-year period, during which the Forest Service
would try to make up to 46 million board feet of timber available annually,
with the amount of old-growth timber harvest gradually decreasing, Stewart
A final decision on the plan is not expected until December.
Meanwhile the Forest Service is accepting objections to the
draft plan only from those who had previously submitted substantive related
formal comments.
According to Trout Unlimited, the draft plan would put
fisheries and recreation on a more even footing with other industries in the

“Commercial fishermen, guides and outfitters,
conservationists and sport anglers commend the Forest Service, the Tongass
Advisory Committee and the people of Southeast Alaska for recognizing that
salmon drive Southeast Alaska’s economy,” said Mark Kaelke, Southeast Alaska project
director for Trout Unlimited. “Conserving healthy salmon habitat on the Tongass
will help ensure that’s always the case,” he said.