Tongass Forest Plan Amendment supports sustainable communities and viable economies

Contact(s): Rosann Fillmore


Draft Decision focuses on transition to young growth harvest and renewable energy development

KETCHIKAN, Alaska, June 30, 2016 – The Tongass National Forest released the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment, Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (ROD). The plan amendment focuses on accelerating the transition from old-growth timber harvest to young-growth while maintaining opportunities for a viable timber industry in Southeast Alaska. The plan also contributes to sustainable and diverse local economies by promoting renewable energy development.

“Through years of collaborative efforts, the Tongass has sought a resolution to long-standing conflicts regarding timber management,” said Earl Stewart, Tongass Forest Supervisor. “This amendment is the culmination of those collaborative efforts, and aligned with the unanimous recommendations of the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC).”

The plan amendment has a narrow focus and does not include changes to the Tongass Conservation Strategy, Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River Designation or changes to most land use designations. The plan amendment does not propose rulemaking to modify the 2001 Roadless Rule application to the Tongass National.

The plan amendment reflects the unanimous recommendations of the TAC to the Forest Service. The advisory committee included 15 members who represented a broad and diverse range of viewpoints and expertise. They were from geographically diverse communities in Alaska and the western U.S. and included representatives of state and local government, Alaska Native Corporations, the timber industry, the environmental community and the general public.

The amendment also complies with a Memorandum from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who directed consideration of an amendment to the Tongass Forest Plan to promote a transition to young-growth management.

After publication of the draft amendment, public meetings and federal subsistence hearings were held in nine communities across Southeast Alaska in January and February, where public comments were received. Tribal organizations and corporations were also involved in the process.

The draft decision is the culmination of a comprehensive public involvement process that sought, and carefully considered, input from the public, local, state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, as well as previous decades of collaborative efforts. Over 165,000 comments were received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The publication of the draft decision and Final EIS begins a 30-day FEIS public review period, which will commence concurrently with the 60-day objection filing period on July 2, 2016.  Only those who submitted substantive comments are eligible to object. Following review and written response to the objections, a final ROD is expected late December 2016.

The Tongass Forest Plan Amendment, Final EIS, and Draft Record of Decision and instructions for filing an objection are available for review online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/R10/Tongass/PlanAmend

 

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD507992