Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy

Sunrise on the water in the Tongass

Forest Service photo by Rueben Glaves.

 

UPDATE: Oct. 19, 2021 - Thank you to everyone for participating in the 30-day input period for the initial investment initiative (Sept. 15-Oct. 18, 2021). Participants submitted 240 project proposals and 70 meeting requests. The USDA team is reviewing input and conducting meetings. We expect long-term, meaningful collaboration to continue beyond this input period. Stay tuned for updates. This email address remains available for the public to contact the USDA team SM.FS.SASS_Info@usda.gov. Tribal Nation and Alaska Native corporation consultations may be requested at any time. 

 

Engaging Communities and Sustaining Economies

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy to help support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience, and conserve natural resources.

USDA is focused on maximizing its collective resources to provide the highest level of support and service to Southeast Alaska, by investing federal dollars in a sustainable way, identifying diverse investment opportunities using an inclusive path by listening to local voices, and streamlining internal administrative procedures to get funding out faster. The overall outcome would be a diverse economy, enhanced community resilience, and conserved natural resources.

 

Four Primary Components of the Strategy

The Strategy includes four primary components to be undertaken on the Tongass National Forest and in Southeast Alaska including:

 

  • Ending large-scale, old-growth timber harvest and focusing resources to support forest restoration, recreation, climate resilience, and sustainable young-growth management.
  • A proposal to restore the 2001 Roadless Rule protections.
  • Engaging in meaningful consultation with Tribal Nations.
  • Identifying short- and long-term opportunities for investment that reflect the diverse opportunities and needs in the region.

 

Investment Component

USDA agencies, including the Forest Service, Rural Development, and Natural Resources Conservation Service are strategizing to obtain investment ideas, seek out short- and long-term opportunities, and identify administrative barriers that impact federal investments.

Consultation with Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, and collaboration with municipal governments, local partners, communities, and the public are ongoing to create a sustainable and inclusive path forward as we invest in common ground opportunities and relationships.

Key opportunities will build on regional assets and include investments that reflect the diverse needs and opportunities in the region, including:

  • Fisheries and Mariculture
  • Recreation and Visitor Services
  • Tourism
  • Renewable Energy
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Transportation
  • Cultural and Niche Wood Products
  • Sustainable Timber Management
  • Carbon Sequestration

 

USDA initially committed up to $25 million based on local priorities for short-term investments.

 

We want to hear from you!

Information shared by Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, municipal governments, local partners, communities, and the public is invaluable as we move through this process.

We look forward to engaging and collaborating on critical investments in local communities and across the region. This is just the beginning.

We will be offering several opportunities for dialog and collaboration into the future on this topic. Investment proposals and strategies will be collected through several platforms.

 

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 18, 2021 - Participate in the 30-day input period. 
    • Closed, see update at top of page.

 

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy?

The Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy is USDA’s approach to support economic, cultural, and natural resources sustainability in the region. Southeast Alaska’s culture, people, and economy are interwoven with the Tongass National Forest. The strategy prioritizes USDA resources and capacity to better serve the broader economy of Southeast Alaska.  We look to be part of an inclusive, responsive approach that complements existing efforts toward practical, common-sense solutions. Our initial Economic Investment effort will commit up to $25 million in federal funding based on local priorities for short-term, project-based investments.

 

Why did USDA initiate this Strategy and the economic investment component?

USDA is focused on maximizing its collective resources to provide the highest level of support and service to Southeast Alaska. Overall outcomes anticipated include stronger relationships with Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, and municipal governments; inclusive, diverse engagements that represent the people, communities, and cultures of Southeast Alaska; an understanding of administrative barriers that continue to impact funding distribution and may include changes to policies, laws, and regulations; and be able to use input gained from engagements to determine short- and long-term investments for the region.

 

What are the other components of the strategy?

In addition to the Economic Investment component, the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy also involves ending large-scale, old-growth timber harvest and focusing resources to support forest restoration, recreation, climate resilience, and sustainable young-growth management. It also includes a proposal to restore the 2001 Roadless Rule protections on the Tongass and to engage in meaningful consultations with Tribal Nations and Alaska Native corporations.

 

How will USDA conduct an inclusive, responsive approach?

A USDA intra-agency team is engaging Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, municipal governments, local partners and communities, and the public to support an integrated approach to economic development planning and implementation. USDA plans to leverage its resources to support these efforts including programs to strengthen small businesses, broadband, renewable energy production, local foods and agriculture production, water and sewer infrastructure, healthcare, housing, outdoor tourism, silviculture support and others as appropriate.

 

What is the role of the Alaska-based intra-agency team in the investment component of the Strategy?

The Alaska-based, USDA intra-agency team is co-led by Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Forest Service. This team is locally based and will consult with Tribal Nations and Alaska Native corporations and engagement with partners and municipal governments to identify priorities and practical opportunities for both short- and long-term investments of financial and technical assistance. The team will also focus on identifying administrative barriers to potential federal funding.

 

How is the USDA intra-agency team gathering information for the Economic Investments?

The intra-agency team is poised and ready to collect diverse public input that informs the Secretary of Agriculture on opportunities for priority investments and in reducing administrative barriers that support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience, and conserve natural resources. The team will accomplish this task using a two-pronged approach to gather public input. It will conduct targeted engagement with key partners and provide opportunities for any member of the public to participate in shaping the economic investment component of the strategy.

 

How can Tribal Nations, local and state governments, organizations, communities, and individuals participate in the process?

The intra-agency team will be reaching out and scheduling tribal consultations, requested engagement sessions, and planned virtual Open Houses designed to inform participants about the strategy and engage in discussions about opportunities for economic investments. Discussions will also focus on identifying administrative barriers to federal funding. Meanwhile, broad public engagement, in the form of a 30-day public outreach period, will be held in mid-September through mid-October with several of platforms offered for engagement.

 

Are there any information webinars, trainings, or Open Houses that can be attended to learn more?

A variety of ways are being offered for those interested in learning more about the strategy and providing input to help shape the economic investment component. These ways include virtual Open Houses, an online feedback tool, an information-filled website, and a dedicated email address for submitting input, letters, and/or existing plans or specific investment proposals.

 

How does USDA determine which project will received the initial $25 million in funding?

The USDA intra-agency team will report back to the Secretary of Agriculture on how existing programs and resources can be deployed to support priorities that emerge from initial engagement and conversations with partners, the public, and during tribal consultation. We expect to see recommendations for a variety of recreation, infrastructure, watershed, and habitat improvement projects, as well as capacity to support the recreation and tourism economies, fisheries and mariculture, renewable energy, transportation, and cultural and niche wood products.  The overall, expected outcome of this investment effort is a prioritized list of investment opportunities aligned with appropriate funding sources and potential leveraged private funds that provide short- and long-term benefits to economic, community, and ecological sustainability in Southeast Alaska.

 

How will USDA support longer-term economic opportunities?

The USDA intra-agency team is engaging with Tribal Nations, Alaska Native corporations, municipal governments, local partners and communities, and the public to support economic development planning and implementation efforts. USDA plans to leverage its resources to support these efforts including programs to strengthen small businesses, broadband, renewable energy production, local foods and agriculture production, water and sewer infrastructure, healthcare, housing, outdoor tourism, silviculture support and others as appropriate.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=FSEPRD950023