Our Framework for the Tongass

Southeast Alaska's world-class salmon runs and ancient rainforests provide jobs for thousands and the economic base for Tongass communities. The Tongass Blueprint Project charts a future for our forest management, designed to preserve and expand the economic, subsistence, and cultural values Southeast Alaskans derive from the Tongass.

The Tongass Blueprint Project is about combining our incredible social and natural capital to create resilient and prosperous communities in Southeast Alaska for generations to come. Southeast Alaska is now proudly growing into an economically healthy and diverse region. The Tongass Blueprint Project ensures that Tongass forest policy serves our common vision for future prosperity, and that local people are empowered to help shape the policies that impact their communities.

Alaskan Wood, Alaskan Jobs

From Prince of Wales to Haines, and everywhere in between, small business like Fairweather Ski Works, Tenakee Logging Company, and Rob Goldberg Handmade Guitars and others are actively turning Tongass trees into high value wood products. By selectively cutting a few trees and turning them into cabins, guitars, skis, and tongue and groove siding, small businesses throughout the region are proving that there’s a sustainable alternative to industrial scale logging. Small volume, high value wood products work economically and ecologically, and they thrive without controversial clearcuts. 

Check out a short video featuring local small business Fairweather Ski works below:   

Carbon Storage

The Tongass National Forest is a national climate change champion! Old growth forests store more than nine times the amount of carbon as young growth forests, and the Tongass is one of the few places in America still home to healthy old growth forests.  Tongass old growth stores roughly 8 percent of the country's carbon, and ten times more carbon than any other national forest in the country.  Rather than clearcutting old growth and sending that carbon into the atmosphere, the Forest Service should manage the Tongass for climate change and keep old growth standing.    

Protect Salmon Strongholds

The commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska generates about $1 billion in revenue each year, and Southeast catches more salmon than any other region in the state. As such, we should treat the Tongass for what it is: a giant fish factory. The Tongass Blueprint Project supports Southeast salmon by encouraging the Forest Service to restore watersheds damaged by past logging and road building and to protect high fisheries-value watersheds. 

According to the latest U.S. Forest Service research, wild salmon runs spawned on the Tongass supply 80% of Southeast Alaska’s commercial harvest and 25% of all commercially-caught salmon on the Pacific coast. A full 95% of Alaska’s pink salmon harvest and 80% of our coho are wild runs born and raised on the streams, rivers and estuaries of the Tongass National Forest. Studies show seafood brings in $1 billion annually to Southeast communities, and USFS research indicates Tongass-produced fish supply half of all salmon revenue to our region. The numbers don’t lie. How regional fish habitat is managed matters to local families.  

Check out this great story on how salmon is the top product in the Tongass.  

Subsistence Hunting

It's a timeless tradition: going into the woods and coming home with food to feed the family.  In Southeast, the vast public lands and healthy forests provide Alaskans with the opportunity to carry on that tradition of relying on one's ingenuity and toughness to fill the freezer.  Deer and other subsistence food resources require healthy old growth forests, especialy in winter months.  Wild and healthy forests equal wild and healthy foods.  

Subsidies

The industrial scale timber industry on the Tongass has a long history of enormous federal subsidies.  The Big Thorne Timber Sale will cost U.S. taxpayers $50 million more than it will earn, and in 2014, the Tongass National Forest spent $130,000 for every timber job in Southeast.  Rather than squander public dollars on unsustainable industry models, Tongass subsidies should be directed toward sustainable, successful industries like fishing, tourism, and value-added wood products.   

Tourism and Recreation

Southeast Alaska's tourism industry generates $1 billion annually.  Visitors come from around the world to experience one of the last wild corners on earth.  While here, visitors buy products made locally in Alaska, charter tours, stay in hotels, and support a wide variety of small businesses throughout Southeast.  By keeping the Tongass wild, we're supporting a vibrant and lucrative tourism industry.

 


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