Protecting ~2.5 million Acres of At-Risk Tongass Rainforest
In 2008, Geos Institute was part of a team of scientists from the Society for Conservation Biology that asked the newly minted Obama Administration to protect the Tongass rainforest as a carbon and wildlife refuge. At our mutual urging, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack mentioned in his speech at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (2010) the importance of the Tongass in sequestering up to 8 percent of the nation’s forest carbon annually. Secretary Vilsack continued his interest in the Tongass by announcing in July 2013 that a transition out of old-growth logging would take place, but not for another 10–15 years while old-growth logging would serve as an economic “bridge” to previously cut young growth not yet available for re-harvest.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service has put forth controversial old-growth timber sales that routinely get litigated by conservation groups and local mills are starving for wood. The Forest Legacies program has been working with diverse participants on a project designed to accelerate the transition out of old-growth logging by solving for economic uncertainties created by transition.
Originally published March 15, 2018, available online at Seattle Times
There is no better place to experience old-growth forests than the Tongass and Chugach national forests. Here, all five species of Pacific salmon line up to spawn like rush-hour traffic, spruce and hemlock trees tower like skyscrapers, and bears and wolves still run free.
By Gordon Orians and Dominick A. DellaSala
The Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the crown jewel of our national forest system, is facing an unprecedented threat.
At the end of last year, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced two legislative budget riders aimed at allowing thousands of acres of pristine, roadless old-growth rain forest on the Tongass and the Chugach National Forest to be clear-cut.
We recently joined more than 220 of our fellow scientists from Alaska and across the country in sending a letter to Congress urging members to reject these backdoor efforts to undermine long-standing roadless and old-growth forest protections.
Geos Institute is part of an international coalition dedicated to protecting the world's last remaining primary (unlogged) and intact forest landscapes (forest legacies). We are on the steering committee and science committee for Intact: International Action for Primary Forests. You can learn about the climate, water quality, and biodiversity benefits of these remarkable forests by clcking here: www.primaryforest.org - our position is that the planet’s remaining primary (old growth) forests should be free of industrial activities. Read our statement and see the list of organizations that have already signed on.
Originally published January 28, 2018 05:58 am at the Juneau Empire
Tongass old growth, aquatic life put at stake by spending bill, they say
A group of 220 natural resource scientists urged Congress with a joint letter Friday not to eliminate the so-called “roadless rule” on Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach national forests.
The letter comes in response to two proposed changes U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, attached to an Interior Department spending bill in November that hasn’t yet passed. One provision exempts the Tongass and Chugach from prohibitions on road construction and timber harvesting in certain areas of the national forests.
Another section overturns protections in the Forest Service’s Tongass Management Plan for valuable old-growth timber. The plan instead charts a path toward logging younger tree stands.
Overturning these protections, the scientists write, would threaten salmon runs and the Tongass’ ability to store carbon and mitigate climate change.
More than 200 scientists urged Congress in a letter today to protect the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from increased logging of old-growth trees, an issue that's in the background of budget negotiations in the Senate.
The 220 researchers, mainly from universities and nonprofit organizations, spoke out against proposals by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to exempt the Tongass and Chugach national forests from rules limiting road construction in national forests and to slow the Forest Service's transition to younger-growth timber in the Tongass.