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Scientists ask for salmon protection in Tongass

Posted: June 10, 2013 - 9:14pm  |  Updated: June 11, 2013 - 8:41am

JUNEAU (AP) — More than 200 scientists have signed onto a letter asking Congress to enact legislation protecting 1.9 million acres of salmon habitat in this country’s largest national forest.

The proposal is billed at the “Tongass 77,” referring to the number of watersheds in the Tongass National Forest that would be protected from activities like logging, mine development and road-building. There is currently no such bill pending in Congress but the roughly 230 scientists who signed the letter, dated Monday, as well as other activists, hope the plan will be picked up and sponsored as a bill.

John Schoen, science adviser emeritus for Audubon Alaska and a former state Fish and Game biologist, told reporters via conference call that there are administrative actions the U.S. Forest Service could take but those are temporary and the preference instead is to have a long-term solution. Supporters of the plan also see watershed-wide protections — rather than buffer zones or restrictions near streams or stream segments — as more meaningful.

Heather Hardcastle, commercial fisheries outreach coordinator with Trout Unlimited in Alaska, said the goal behind the plan is not to “lock up” any more of the Tongass from other activities but to secure a designation for the lands that is “pro-fish and wildlife.”

The Tongass covers much of southeast Alaska and is billed as the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. According to the Forest Service, nearly 80 percent of the commercial salmon harvested from the region annually comes from the Tongass, and the forest produces on average 28 percent of Alaska’s annual commercial salmon catch.

“Tongass salmon and wildlife are likely to be adversely affected by future development activities and climate change without additional protection,” the letter states. “Timber and mining development, road building, more than 40 proposed and existing energy projects and several initiatives to privatize large swaths of the Tongass are currently in the works. These development activities have the potential to significantly impact the spawning and rearing habitat of Tongass salmon and trout as well as other species affiliated with old-growth forest habitats.”

Hardcastle, also a commercial gillnetter, said examples of privatization include the proposed Sealaska lands bill making its way through Congress and efforts under way from a state timber task force.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said Murkowski’s Sealaska bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, contains the kind of protections the scientists and others are seeking for six watersheds. But Hardcastle said it doesn’t go far enough. She also said another four other watersheds among the “Tongass 77” overlap with areas that could be could be selected for timber harvest.

Rep. Don Young, in a statement, said the “Tongass 77” proposal is “a fine fundraising tool, but is hardly legitimate public policy with any chance of seeing the light of day in Congress while I’m here.”

“The majority of Southeast Alaska is already locked up via national parks, national monuments, wilderness areas and restricted land use designations,” said Young, who also is sponsoring a version of the Sealaska bill. He called the “Tongass 77” plan unreasonable and said it “further demonstrates that enough is never enough for these groups.”

Begich spokeswoman Heather Handyside said that since the plan would affect “vast acreage and a number of economic sectors in the Tongass,” Begich would continue to listen to and work with interested parties in the region. “However, Sen. Begich believes the Sealaska Land Bill must be passed first,” she said in an email.

Wayne Owen, director of wildlife, fisheries and watershed for the Alaska region of the Forest Service, said all streams on the Tongass have what the agency considers an adequate degree of protection. The Forest Service is in the midst of its five-year management review of the Tongass, with the public comment period, which began in January, closing at the end of this month.

Owen said forest managers are “very open and very interested in all the input they can get so they can understand what the public wants to see more of, how the public feels like the Tongass plan is working and where it might be improved.”

Follow Becky Bohrer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .

Online:

Tongass National Forest: http://1.usa.gov/17D6nPn

For more on the ‘Tongass 77’ proposal: http://americansalmonforest.org/

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AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 06/11/13 - 10:58 am
4
2

YES PROTECT THE TONGASS

REP YOUNG NEEDS TO RIDE OFF IN THE SUNSET!!!

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/13/13 - 05:25 am
2
2

Protect for what?

They are going to waste the Tongass, it is a RIPE forest and needs to be harvested. I think the air heads that FEEL they NEED to protect vast resources from harvest for some near theological theme need to all live in tents! The US Forest service should be FINED or Sued to death for mismanaging OUR national resources. They are allowing politicians to waste hundreds of millions of dollars of OUR forest for a VOTE from good old guys like AK nature guy. The results of this waste is being felt right now in OUR housing market, the next generation cannot afford to buy the lumber to build a home, are you happy with that AKNUT?
When some airhead says the "Tongass" most people don't understand it's an area bigger than any two combined states east of the Mississippi! To not allow harvest for Domestic use is near criminal! The waste and mismanagement will continue to inflict generational costs to OUR great nation, but they will get those votes. While protecting all those forest to BURN in the future. These MYOPIC souls won't even put a road into the forest so we can get equipment in place to fight a forest fire, that is mismanagement! the goal of the National Forestry Dept. when it all started was to manage for a sustainable harvest not just lock it up for the wealthy mega buck corporations. You CANNOT preserve a forest forever without rotating harvest areas to allow use!
Show me ONE place on EARTH where this has proven to be a effective management tool, and I'll show you where the next megafire will happen. Where does anyone GET the right to fairytale dream land preservation over useful harvest for domestic housing? More voters believe in fairytales must be the point they are making, but it still isn't right! Just the majority.

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/13/13 - 05:25 am
1
2

Protect for what?

They are going to waste the Tongass, it is a RIPE forest and needs to be harvested. I think the air heads that FEEL they NEED to protect vast resources from harvest for some near theological theme need to all live in tents! The US Forest service should be FINED or Sued to death for mismanaging OUR national resources. They are allowing politicians to waste hundreds of millions of dollars of OUR forest for a VOTE from good old guys like AK nature guy. The results of this waste is being felt right now in OUR housing market, the next generation cannot afford to buy the lumber to build a home, are you happy with that AKNUT?
When some airhead says the "Tongass" most people don't understand it's an area bigger than any two combined states east of the Mississippi! To not allow harvest for Domestic use is near criminal! The waste and mismanagement will continue to inflict generational costs to OUR great nation, but they will get those votes. While protecting all those forest to BURN in the future. These MYOPIC souls won't even put a road into the forest so we can get equipment in place to fight a forest fire, that is mismanagement! the goal of the National Forestry Dept. when it all started was to manage for a sustainable harvest not just lock it up for the wealthy mega buck corporations. You CANNOT preserve a forest forever without rotating harvest areas to allow use!
Show me ONE place on EARTH where this has proven to be a effective management tool, and I'll show you where the next megafire will happen. Where does anyone GET the right to fairytale dream land preservation over useful harvest for domestic housing? More voters believe in fairytales must be the point they are making, but it still isn't right! Just the majority.

Seafarer
1137
Points
Seafarer 06/16/13 - 08:25 pm
2
2

Big Red Dog Leg

Have you ever been to the Tongass, and I don't mean flying over it, or reading about it in an old encyclopedia? The Tongass is the most majestic of all our National Parks. The size of the Douglas Fir will astound you! You can run for miles without your shoes, on the thick, soft moss. Go deep into the Tongass, and then take a boat trip or two and check her out. You will be in love in no time.

I was born in the Tongass.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 06/16/13 - 08:38 pm
0
1

Seafarer you would need.............

Seafarer, you would need a coloring book to show Big Red Dog what it is all about.

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/17/13 - 07:41 am
1
2

Paint a picture

Run for miles in the forest, while 10's of thousands languish in the unemployment lines due the outrageous cost of a 2X, that is the real cost of your fairytale. That the Democratic Party is dedicated to locking up any and everything they can get under national government control is the problem! That way a Nationalistic Society can pay for all those freeloaders on welfare. I'd bet that if they tied the amount of those welfare checks to the production of products from our National Forests things would change real fast!
Just how many millions of acres of our forests will burn this fire season is the question? Yet the real greedy small picture folks look and say ohe don't you LOVE the Forest? Isn't it cool that some former string of Democratic President wanted to punish the Alaskans that opposed this nationalistic trend at every opportunity. Locking up our land and resources just adds more numbers to those bewildered job seekers trying to make ends meet and have a life. But you don't see that part of the struggle, just some fairytale about running in the forest, what you are really running from is reality!

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 06/17/13 - 08:07 am
2
1

PROTECT THE TONGASS from..........

YES, PROTECT THE TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST from Parnell and the Republican party resource destroyers.

Go Democrats!!!

We are finally protecting the fragile Alaskan landscape and the PEBBLE MINE will be defeated.

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/17/13 - 08:37 am
1
1

I hope they GO!

Go away that is, and what does the Pebble mine have to do with the Tongass? I think the only people for Pebbles are the ones that bought the Penny Stocks about 6 or 8 years back! No attention has been given to the 2 or 300 families that lost their jobs, and homes in Ketchikan when Clinton's roadless rule was imposed on the Tongass. This was just after the citizens of Alaska built a wood processing plant to secure more jobs for Alaskans from OUR natural resources. Seems any move to maximize jobs short of directly shipping natural resources out of the state is met with this nationalizing mentality.
Hundreds of $1,000,000.00's of investments from our state coffers has been trashed. Thrown out for the votes of those easily bought with some perceived social value, somehow linked to ownership of millions of acres of resources. Yet you can run into the forest for miles, that is how far you are from reality!

kenai123
1220
Points
kenai123 06/17/13 - 04:49 pm
1
4

You're both nuts

Run in the forest for miles? It's renewable so lets cut it down? You're both nuts, our salmon rise or fall from proper fresh and saltwater fisheries management and we have very little of that. Commercial fisheries say the same things, it's renewable so lets cut it down... Our crab stocks are at an all time low, our herring are at an all time low, our king salmon are starving to death because commercial fisheries have cut down their feed. Dance through the forest bare footed with a chainsaw in one hand, while sprinklings fairy-dust with the other? While you guys freak out hugging and cutting trees, our commercial fishermen are DESTROYING our fisheries just to make themselves rich. So dance and cut your way through the Tongass while commercial fisheries
eat both of your lunches.

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/17/13 - 08:22 pm
2
1

Did I hear an Amen

Those fishermen, are just like those Lumber Jacks and mill workers, they have to feed their families and save for when they are older. All I'm saying is these folks at least EARN a living w/o some GOV aid to declining industry putting the food on the table. With the GOV stopping people that are willing to work, and in the same breath inflating the welfare roles from poor national mismanagement of our resources. Yes it makes me wonder what the poor folks are doing tonight.

kenai123
1220
Points
kenai123 06/22/13 - 03:47 pm
1
0

Protecting the habitat? What for when all the salmon are dead?

Yeah we need the trees and the habitat but protecting 2 million acres of salmon habitat won't do very much for a bunch of DEAD salmon. Open your eyes and see that our commercial fisheries are destroying the primary habitat out in the ocean right along with the salmon. So save all the trees you want, the commercially caught and sold dead salmon won't notice either way. All of their herring and crab prey which has been commercially wiped out won't care either.
We are not in a natural low abundance situation.

1950 lower 48 east coast commercial fisheries caught so many cod that they caused their cod fisheries collapse by 1970. 1930 depression era farmers plowed up the grassy prairies but caused The Great Dust Bowl. World War 2 era dam builders produced cheap electricity but killed most of their salmon. The lower 48 west coast timber industry cut so many trees that they eroded and silted their river thus killing most of their salmon. 1990 lower 48 west coast commercial salmon fisheries caught so many salmon that they help cause their salmon fisheries collapse by 2000. Before 1980 Florida had a massive tarpon resource but they allowed excess commercial harvest of tarpon prey like blue crab, pink shrimp and toadfish, thus causing their tarpon to collapse by 1990. Many claimed these losses were the result of "a natural cycle". Excess commercial harvest has depleted Alaska's herring, crab and now king salmon resources. Our ADF&G is claiming "a natural low abundance" but we are compelled to ask if this is in fact "a natural cycle" or the direct results of the same excessive commercial activities and mis-management which has plagued our past?

BigRedDog
647
Points
BigRedDog 06/22/13 - 08:25 pm
0
0

How could we put that on a Ballot?

I have been educated bye your very enlightening contribution to this blog. I would VOTE for this in a minute. I was here back in the hay day before they ran the trawlers out of the Kachemak Bay. I guess it didn't take long before they cleaner her out, oh yes that is when you stop them, After the crash.
My favorite fishing hole has been turned into Disney Land complete with cruise ship access. My beach site friends have been having it pretty rough for a LONG time, so here is to hoping the Kings Run Deep! Can't shoot mulligan moose, and after 25 attempts to draw a Bison tag I think it's time we go on a point's system. You know where only a forth of the tags go to the 1st or 2nd year residents, not 50 %. maybe it just seems that way but we have all heard of the lucky first time drawing winner.
So Alaska is changing just as fast as the rest of the world and may well display it's effects on a grand scale. Good luck slowing it down, you see old Charley stole the throttle and the train can't slow down.

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