Tongass Rainforest

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.

200+ scientists urge vote against Tongass rider

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

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.

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Old growth, new fight: Tongass timber slows wildfire bill

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published: Friday, January 26, 2018, E&E Newswire

The old-growth timber industry's fight for survival in Alaska may be complicating congressional efforts to reach a long-term solution to costly wildfires.

Senate aides and lobbyists told E&E News that Sen. Lisa Murkowski's focus on protecting southeast Alaska's shrinking old-growth timber business is one potential wrinkle as lawmakers balance environmental and forest industry interests in search of a compromise, possibly in a spending bill covering the rest of this fiscal year.

As the Republican chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and often a swing vote on issues in the Senate, Alaska's senior senator is a key player in the wildfire and forest management debate. She told E&E News on Wednesday she's still working toward including a wildfire measure in a broader bill but didn't elaborate.

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Murkowski targets roadless rule in spending talks

Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published by E&E on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A fight over road construction in the Tongass National Forest may flare up in spending negotiations.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sponsored a provision in draft Senate appropriations legislation for Interior and related agencies that would exempt Alaska from federal rules that restrict building of roads in national forests.

Murkowski's move against the "roadless rule" marks another line in a battle that's been playing out, mainly in federal courts, since the Clinton administration handed down the regulations in 2001.

A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge in September dismissed a lawsuit by Alaska seeking to overturn the rule.

Murkowski, chairwoman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, is also pushing a provision that would slow the Forest Service's transition from old-growth logging to young-growth logging in Tongass and Chugach national forests.

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Old-Growth Logging's Last Stand?

Clearcutting ancient trees in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest makes little sense—ecologically, climatically, even economically. So why is it so hard to stop?

“I am sensitive to the fact that these are rural communities where every job matters,” said Dominick DellaSala, president of Geos. “That’s why we said, ‘If you go this way, you get a wall of wood. If you go this way, you get a wall of litigation.’ We were trying to help.”

Keep reading the article by Sarah Gilman at bioGraphic

 

Final Tongass logging plan draws mixed reaction

By Scott Streater

Reposted from E&E News on December 9, 2016

The Forest Service has formally approved a much-debated land-use plan amendment that calls for phasing out clearcutting of old-growth trees over a 16-year period in Tongass National Forest.

Some environmentalists criticized the move as not going far enough to protect the nation's largest forest, while the timber industry is likely to object, as well.

Tongass National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart has finalized a record of decision (ROD) that calls for shifting to young-growth trees in areas that have been previously logged in the nearly 17-million-acre forest in southeast Alaska, according to a notice published in yesterday's Federal Register.

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