Salmon habitat in Tongass National Forest in Alaska protected
The United States Forest Service has finalized an amendment to its management plan for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska that will seek to better conserve more than 70 salmon and trout streams within the reserve.
Located in Southeast Alaska, the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest is home to old-growth forests and prime spawning grounds for Alaska’s native salmon populations. The new measures instituted by the Forest Service include the limiting of logging in the Tongass 77, “a collection of the most important and productive wild salmon areas on the forest,” according to a press release from Trout Unlimited’s Alaska chapter.
“The decision is a major step toward safeguarding fish and wildlife across wide areas of the Tongass National Forest,” said Mark Kaelke, Southeast Alaska project director for Trout Unlimited. “In making Tongass 77 areas off-limits to old growth logging, the Forest Service has recognized both the economic and social significance of salmon to residents and visitors to the region, and the agency has deepened its commitment to true multiple-use management of the Tongass.”
The amendment will result in a transition of the Tongass timber program from old-growth logging to focusing on young-growth forest management.
“By increasing conservation measures for high-value salmon streams and creating more flexibility for the Forest Service to plan young growth timber sales, this decision promises to help move the Tongass beyond the long-standing controversies of old-growth logging while allowing the forest to better serve residents and communities who depend on hunting, fishing, tourism or commercial fishing,” Trout Unlimited said in a statement.