Your efforts to conserve key areas for fish in the Tongass

Photo by Alan Corbett
By: Jenny Weis
It’s hard to overemphasize the beauty of the Tongass National Forest. Giant hemlock, spruce, and cedar trees cover most of Southeast Alaska’s islands and line the coasts, comprising the United States’ largest national forest. The Tongass attracts about 1.5 million visitors a year, many of them anglers. And for good reason – the many rivers host abundant returns of all five species of Pacific salmon –as well as steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char. 
Unfortunately, anglers and other recreational users are not the only ones interested in the Tongass. Historically, huge volumes of old growth forest have been logged from public lands in Southeast Alaska, and many miles of road have been carved into pristine areas. Clear cut old-growth logging, small mines and various efforts to privatize our public lands threaten fish and wildlife habitat as well as recreation areas. 
Photo by Mark Hieronymus
In response, TU has worked for many years to conserve the most important watersheds within the forest for salmon, trout and recreation through a proposal known as the “Tongass 77.”
Late last year, we reached the latest milestone in our conservation efforts. The U.S. Forest Service proposed a new plan for managing the forest that would largely end large-scale old-growth logging in the Tongass, and could prohibit logging in some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat, including the Tongass 77 areas. 
After this announcement, we asked many of you to weigh in – and you really followed through! The Forest Service received thousands of comments from anglers across the country who supported these increased protections for key areas for salmon and trout. Thank you!
Photo by Alan Corbett
We know the many pro-conservation comments will be hard for the Forest Service to ignore, and we’re hoping to see the next step in the process (the release of a Draft Record of Decision) in June or July of this year. 
Thank you again for your efforts (or future efforts!) to help conserve key areas of the Tongass.  
Jenny Weis is the Communications and Digital Advocacy Specialist for TU's Alaska Program.

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