On July 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would set up a new team to consult with Tribal governments and Alaska Native corporations, and work with regional stakeholders to allocate up to $25 million of funding — emphasizing examples of integrated sustainable economic development already underway in the region. This is now referred to as the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy (SASS).
The Tongass National Forest’s initial response and engagement regarding the new Biden Biden-Harris directive for management of the Forest has opened with the SASS. SEACC staff attended the open house on September 15 and learned more about the engagement piece, which is basically a region-wide solicitation of project ideas, identification of barriers and capacity issues at the Forest or regional level, and program concepts which they hope will help boost the region’s economy now and into the future.
Essentially, the Forest Service is looking for suggestions on constructive ways to spend the $25 million associated with President Biden’s plan for Southeast Alaska, with a view toward long-term economic value.
That’s where we come in! There is no shortage of opportunity here! Let’s give them some great ideas.
As we develop our comments, it’s important to remember that we have been called on by the Forest Service to submit economic investment ideas within a broad range of focus areas.
As some of you know, I worked for the Forest Service on the Tongass for 13 years. I was a recreation department employee for the most part, and through this work, I developed a passion for supporting outdoor recreation on public lands in Southeast. Each of you has local knowledge too. You know what’s going on in your backyard. You know what needs to be done, you are familiar with common barriers to success here, and you all are invested rightsholders or stakeholders in the Tongass.
We strongly encourage our members and supporters to use this opportunity wisely and creatively.
We hope you’ll make the time by Monday, October 18, to submit ideas through the Forest Service’s SASS web portal or email address. As always, if you want help submitting, SEACC staff like myself stand ready to assist.
SASS website and submission portal: fs.usda.gov/goto/r10/sass
SASS email address: [email protected]