Kuiu Island (pronounced “Q-you”) is the 15th largest island in the U.S. and sits in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. The island provides world-class habitat for bears, eagles, salmon, trout, deer, and numerous other species of wildlife, fish, and fowl. Yet, through the years, Kuiu has been subjected to numerous and massive clear-cut timber sales by the Forest Service that have severely compromised the old growth hemlock, spruce and cedar forests upon which these species depend.
Kuiu was heavily logged in the 80s and 90s, and now those clear-cuts are covered in dense second-growth forest that provides little utility to fish and wildlife. The importance of the remaining old-growth stands cannot be overstated.
In the last decade, the Forest Service has consistently targeted this island for old-growth timber sales. Despite the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars on infrastructure and preparation for these sales, and minimum bid requirements that offer to sell the trees for pennies on the dollar, so far there have been no buyers.
Currently this timber sale is the focus of a lawsuit over how timber sales are administered and the lack of adequate environmental review.
Because past logging on Kuiu Island targeted the largest, most profitable trees, cutting them down at an unsustainable pace, the Island simply doesn’t have any more old-growth forest to give and timber operators can’t make new timber sales there pencil out. If we’re just talking dollars, the annual $1 billion visitor industry and $1 billion commercial and sport salmon fishing industry, both of which directly rely on high quality wildlife and salmon habitat, are a much better bet. It’s time we give Kuiu a break!