Good New from SE AK, with caveats...
If you don't wanna leave the room, here's what it says -
If you are still here and didn't glaze over (or just "TL;DR") and are remotely familiar with the issue, this is a pretty big deal...which is why the following excerpts of an answering press release (link HERE for the folks who wanna see it in its entirety) from the AK delegation are a little disheartening..."The U.S. Forest Service this month finalized an amendment to its Tongass Land and Resource Management plan that will help conserve more than 70 salmon and trout streams within Southeast Alaska's 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest. The decision helps safeguard fish thanks to provisions that transition the Tongass timber program from old-growth logging to one based on sustainable young-growth forest management while protecting healthy salmon streams at the same time.
In other words, biodiversity and ecological integrity win. And archaic extraction practices will, eventually, get the axe.
A diverse group of more than seven thousand Alaskan businesses and individuals, including commercial fishermen, guides and outfitters, as well as conservationists and sport anglers, voiced support for conserving top fish-producing watersheds within the Tongass during the public process leading up to the amendment.
"Including the Tongass 77 areas in the amended Forest Plan will help ensure that in the future we have viable freshwater streams that are crucial to our guests experience in the Tongass," said Arne Johnson, owner of Bear Creek Outfitters in Juneau.
The Tongass is the nation’s largest National Forest, producing hundreds of millions of wild salmon each year that support commercial and sport fishing industries, account for 10 percent of all regional employment, and contribute $1 billion annually to the local economy.
"Conserving the Tongass 77 is a huge step in the right direction for the people and businesses of Southeast Alaska," said Mark Hieronymus, Sportfish Outreach Coordinator for Trout Unlimited and veteran guide on the Tongass. "Fisheries, tourism, and recreation are the economic drivers in Southeast, and this new plan amendment recognizes those values and sets sound conservation measures for the high-value areas of the Tongass 77."
We're not out of the woods yet."U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, and U.S. Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today issued the following statements after the U.S. Forest Service released its Final Record of Decision (ROD) to amend the Tongass Land Management Plan (plan).
“By finalizing a new plan on its way out of office, the Obama administration has blatantly disregarded some of the Tongass Advisory Committee’s most important recommendations and imperiled the economic future of Southeast Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Under this plan, the Tongass will no longer be managed to work for communities, but against them. The Forest Service’s insistence on locking in an accelerated transition to a young growth program without an inventory to show whether that is even possible is both harmful and misguided. And the timber industry is not the only one threatened by this plan – so, too, are energy development, mining, and others.”
“This is the latest attempt in a death by a thousand cuts from this administration and extreme environmental activists who for years have been trying to kill off the last remaining timber industry in the Tongass,” Sullivan said. “Thankfully, the Obama Administration has only weeks left in office, after which we can turn this decision around and bring active management to our federal forests for the benefit for Alaska and America's economy.”
“The transition from old to new growth timber harvests in the Tongass is more than a blow to the Alaskan timber industry, it sets a terrible precedent for timber harvesting across the nation,” Young said. “The U.S. Forest Service has time and time again proven they have zero interests in properly managing our national forests; sentiments echoed by the State of Alaska and Southeast timber communities. Under this new management plan, Southeast will not have enough young growth timber to supply even one single sawmill. We’ve already seen great support for overturning this shortsighted action, including passage of an amendment in the House Natural Resources Committee that would forbid this transition from taking place until a full inventory of young growth timber can be taken in the Tongass. I remain committed to reforming the federal government’s broken system of forestry management and will continue to push for the enactment of my legislation, the State National Forest Management Act.”
For those of you that have listened to me blather on about the Tongass, or supported TU and ASF, or signed one of the myriad petitions I have linked to in the past 5 years - Thank you. Your support of this issue is greatly appreciated.
For those that wish to learn more, visit http://www.americansalmonforest.org/
Thanks again, fellas.