Tongass National Forest - Proposed Plan Amendment

The Tongass National Forest (Tongass) is amending the 2008 Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan).

The need for change comes from a July 2013 memo from U. S. Department of Agriculture  Secretary Tom Vilsack (Secretary’s Memorandum 1044-009) directing the Tongass to transition its forest management program to be more ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable, as well as information generated during the Five-Year Review of the Forest Plan in 2013.  An amendment is needed to accelerate the transition to a young-growth forest management program, and to do so in a way that preserves a viable timber industry that provides jobs and opportunities for residents of Southeast Alaska. Changes to the Forest Plan are also needed to make the development of renewable energy resources more permissible, including access and utility corridors to stimulate economic development in Southeast Alaska communities.

Changes to the Forest Plan are being developed under the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 219). The Tongass is the first national forest to amend a plan completed under the 1982 Planning Rule using the 2012 Planning Rule.

The notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement was published in the Federal Register on May 27, 2014 (79 FR 30074). 

In developing alternatives for the Draft EIS, the Forest Service considered input from the public, State of Alaska, conservation organizations, and the Tongass Advisory Committee which was established by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

The issues identified for analysis are young-growth transition, renewable energy, roadless areas, and wildlife habitat and the conservation strategy. 

A corrected NOI was published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2015 (80 FR 35934) to change the responsible official and expected draft environmental impact statement publication date, and include information about the 36 CFR 219, Subpart B objection process applicable to plan amendments.

A final decision document approving the plan amendment is anticipated mid-December 2016; See schedule milestones.

Monitoring and evaluation is a quality control process required for implementation of the Forest Plan.  To meet the requirements in the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 219.12(c)), the Tongass is developing a new plan monitoring program. This effort is separate from the proposed plan amendment.  The new monitoring program is expected to be completed in May 2016.

Proposed Land & Resource Management Plan and DEIS Documents

Proposed Land & Resource Management Plan and DEIS LUD & Suitable Areas Alternative Maps

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period has closed.  Thank you to those who reviewed the DEIS and Proposed Forest Plan and submitted comments. We received over 165,000 comments. The comments helped us develop the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the draft Record of Decision, which are expected to be published June 24, 2016.

To read the comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Forest Plan Amendment, visit the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan Amendment Reading Room

Questions pertaining to information about the Forest Plan Amendment can be directed to:
Susan Howle, Forest Plan Amendment Project Manager (907) 228-6340