Saving the Tongass: “America’s Salmon Forest”

Called “America’s Salmon Forest” by conservationists who understand its critical importance to fish populations, the Tongass National Forest is currently open to multiple threats, including uncontrolled mining, damming and development.  Joined by groups like the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and media personalities like Meat Eater‘s Steven Rinella, Trout Unlimited is working to conserve 1.8 million acres of prime salmon and trout habitat on the Tongass in a campaign called the “Tongass 77“—named for the 77 critical watersheds within the Tongass they hope to help protect.

You can help create awareness for the Tongass—one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind places that we may not fully appreciate until it disappears—by going to AmericanSalmonForest.org and adding your name to the Sign On page.

More from Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program communications director, Paula Dobbyn:

“Heads up salmon anglers. It’s time to tell the U.S. Forest Service to stop misspending your money in America’s salmon forest – the Tongass, in Southeast Alaska. The Tongass is a temperate rain forest teaming with salmon, profiled as one of Field & Stream’s Best Wild Places of 2011.

Here’s the thing: every year, the Forest Service, which manages the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest, spends $25 million or so on logging and road building, an industry that puts about 200 people to work. At the same time, the Forest Service invests only about $1.5 million on restoring salmon-producing watersheds in the Tongass that were damaged by clear-cut logging in past years. Does that make any sense? We don’t think so.

Salmon and trout are a billion dollar industry in Southeast Alaska. They’re a cultural icon that employ about 7,300 people or about 10 percent of the population and form the economic backbone of this isolated but fish-rich stretch of country. The Forest Service ought to recognize this and back it up with money. It’s time for this federal agency to put move more of its timber dollars into salmon and trout.

That’s the message that a group of fishermen are taking back to D.C. this week. Trout Unlimited is organizing the lobby trip and asks you to contact Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell (ttidwell@fs.fed.us) and USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman (harris.sherman@usda.gov) and express your support for Tongass salmon.  You should also contact your representatives in Congress.

For more details, check out www.americansalmonforest.org or read TU’s press release.”

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  • Joe Mehrkens

    TU’s pitch on the Tongass 77 watrsheds only describes a portion of the issue.  I am a director of a new non-profit called the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community.  We have a viewpoint which is quite different,  Simply, protecting the Tongass 77 will largely depend on giving up the highest quality habitat on Prince of Wales Island to private logging with nortorious poor land management.  Also, while many of the 77 watersheds are not legally designated like Wilderness, they are also not at risk from logging.  Our website fully describes our viewpoint: GSACC.net

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