A report released Nov. 18 by Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman, Montana research firm, used the Freedom of Information Act to access the Forest Service’s budget and staffing data on the Tongass from 2009 to 2013. Researchers found that Forest Service spending on timber continues to account for the largest portion of the Tongass National Forest budget. It also shows that for each of the five years spending on timber accounted for more of the Tongass’ budget than fisheries, wildlife, recreation and watershed protection combined.
The focus on logging comes despite the fact that timber accounts for less than one percent of Southeast Alaska employment, while tourism accounts for 15 percent and fishing for nine percent, the report said.
Both the fishing and tourism industries rely on land and water resources managed by the Tongass National Forest and directly benefit from enhancements to natural resources health, along with services and infrastructure provided by the Forest Service. Activities that degrade the pristine nature of the land, such as old growth harvesting, are likely to have adverse impacts on these important regional industries.
The seafood industry in Southeast Alaska employed 4,252 people in 2013 and accounted for nine percent of total regional employment. The fishing and tourism industries both rely on land and water resources managed by Tongass National Forest and directly benefit from enhancements to natural resource health, plus services and infrastructure provided by the Forest Service.
The report was completed with funding from two Seattle-based foundations, Wilburforce and Campion.
The entire report is online at http://headwaterseconomics.org/land/reports/tongass.