Field and Stream turned its attention to Alaska’s coastal temperate rain forest — the Tongass National Forest – this month as part of its Best Wild Places series. Outdoor writer Darren Dorris teamed up with Tim Bristol, director of TU, Alaska Program, and Mark Kaelke, TU’s Southeast Alaska project director, for several days of fresh and saltwater fishing. He also went on a guided hunt for Sitka black-tailed deer.
Read about Dorris’ adventures in part one, part two and part three of the series and learn why the 17-million-acre Tongass is America’s salmon forest and what TU is doing to help conserve, protect and restore this giant forest’s highly productive salmon and trout watersheds.
Documentary photographer Julie Denesha has created a new series of stunning images of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The project — Tongass Guardians – was made possible through a U.S. Forest Service residency program for artists and writers called Voices of the Wilderness. Denesha spent a week last summer with Forest Service rangers working in the remote 17-million-acre Tongass, the country’s largest national forest, a place with more than 17,000 miles of salmon and trout-producing rivers and streams. Here the photographer describes her unique opportunity:
“I was very fortunate to have a chance to travel with two rangers working in Endicott Arm Fjord in the Tongass National Forest. In order to access and monitor the land managed by the forest service, the rangers patrol the waters in sea kayaks and small motorized boats.
Forest Rangers work on water and land to monitor the vast Alaskan wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. The largest national forest in the United States, the Tongass, covers most of Southeast Alaska. A part of that wilderness, Endicott Arm Fjord, terminates at Dawes Glacier and rangers make frequent visits to monitor flora and fauna, and track the retreat of the massive tidewater glaciers. It is a landscape that is changing rapidly. Since the naturalist John Muir visited Endicott Arm in 1880, Dawes Glacier has retreated dramatically in a sign of the planet’s changing climate. With increasing number of tourists eager to take a closer look at the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, the rangers also track the impact of tourism on the area and educate tour groups they encounter on the trail.”
Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program works to conserve and restore the Tongass’ high-value salmon and trout watersheds. Learn more about TU’s Tongass 77 campaign here.
Author and hunter Steven Rinella, host of Sportsman Channel’s MeatEater show, champions old growth conservation in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest in a new video. Produced as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s “Conservation Field Notes,” the video explores why habitat protection on the Tongass makes sense from a hunter’s perspective.
Rinella is the author of The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and American Buffalo: In Seach of a Lost Icon. A self-described modern-day hunter-gatherer, Rinella is an expert on the hunting lifestyle, wild game, the ethics of hunting, and the human need for wilderness.
TU, which is working to conserve 1.8 million acres of prime salmon and trout habitat on the Tongass in a campaign called the Tongass 77, applauds TRCP and Rinella for producing the video and speaking out on behalf of the Tongass. Located in Southeast Alaska, the 17-million-acre Tongass is the country’s largest national forest. It supports a billion-dollar salmon and trout fishery and more than 7,300 fishing-related jobs. Field & Stream selected the Tongass as one of its Best Wild Places in 2011.
Trout Unlimited hit two large sportsman’s shows on the West Coast recently to introduce its Tongass 77 campaign to the hunting and angling community. TU’s Sportfish Outreach Coordinator for Southeast Alaska, Mark Hieronymus, spoke with many lodge owners and guides at the International Sportsman’s Expo in Sacramento, Calif., and also at the Western Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup, Wash.
“I talked to 48 businesses representing 54 lodges operating in and around the Tongass National Forest. Many of them signed our letter of support for the Tongass 77 campaign. Several fishing gear manufactures also signed and expressed overwhelming support for protecting the Tongass’ high-value salmon and trout producing systems at the watershed scale,” said Hieronymus.
The Tongass 77 campaign aims to place some 1.8 million acres (representing 77 watersheds) of the Tongass, currently open to development, into a land management status where conservation of fish habitat is the highest priority use.
An exhibit featuring art made by Ketchikan elementary students that celebrates Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is on display at the Tongass Historical Museum through February 25. “A Forest of Words: Youth Voices Celebrate the Tongass National Forest” is a collection of two-dimensional art, including drawings and paintings, video pieces, a PowerPoint presentation and written work, such as poems. About 400 pieces were created by children living in the small Tongass communities of Naukati, Craig, Thorne Bay, Petersburg, Wrangell and Yakutat.
Museum director Michael Naab said the project was coordinated by Faith Duncan of the Forest Service in conjunction with the International Year of the Forest in 2011, according to the Ketchikan Daily News. Read more about the exhibit.
The Tongass is the country’s largest national forest. Its 17-million-acre expanse runs about 500 miles along the scenic Southeast Alaska coast, bordering with Canada. The Tongass is a coastal temperate rain forest that produces tens of millions of salmon annually. It’s crisscrossed with over 17,000 miles of salmon rivers and streams, making it America’s national “salmon forest.” TU works to conserve the highest-value salmon and trout watersheds in the Tongass through a campaign called the Tongass 77.