The Tongass Forrest celebrates its 106th birthday this month and it remains as one of natures greatest sanctuaries for wildlife. This summer’s record-breaking run of wild salmon is a testament to the viability of this land. However, logging interests continue to rise in southeast Alaska. Even with the sustainable economic strength of the commercial fishing and tourism industries, the Forest Service recently approved the Big Thorne timber project. This new measure turns back the clock to a time when the Tongass was clear cut from island to island.
Last spring, I had the chance to travel to Washington D.C. and represent the commercial fishing industry as a part of a group of like-minded individuals for Tongass 77. The Tongass 77 proposes that salmon habitat be protected first for tourism and commercial fishing interests. Although I found the political process flawed, the time for action is now. The logging industry is a relic of the past in southeast Alaska. The shear economic strength of the tourism and commercial fishing industries adds up to nearly 2 billion dollars. The value of the new-found timber industry will only put money in the pockets of a few and could jeopardize the future of our salmon runs and the beauty of our pristine forest.
The battle for our forest is not new. The evidence of clear-cut throughout southeast Alaska proves that the timber industry once thrived in our nation’s greatest forest. The reality is that these new timber projects will create some jobs, but the majority of the production will be outsourced to foreign countries. The last operating mill closed down years ago. This new logging boom is only meant to line the pockets of a few large corporations. I believe this is a huge step backwards for the Tongass and I implore you to inform yourself and use your voice to stand up against this threat to our livelihood and home, the Tongass National Forest.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill
- A Very Unhappy Birthday for the Tongass National Forest (huffingtonpost.com)
- Let’s prioritize wild Alaska salmon (juneauempire.com)
- Summer Salmon 2013 | The Summer Of Nevers (juneautek.com)
- Forest Service chief tours Tongass with Murkowski (fresnobee.com)
- Development group pushes new Tongass approach (kcaw.org)