Yesterday we released a letter with thousands of signatures of businesses and individuals who support conserving and maintaining access to public lands - especially the Tongass National Forest. These signers are asking our elected officials to continue to keep public lands in the public trust.
So what's the big deal - why Public?
We hear it again, and again, Alaska is different. One of the things that sets us far apart from any other state in the U.S. is our public lands. Of the 424.5 million square miles in Alaska, 224.1 million square miles are in the public trust.
This means that 53% of the land in Alaska is managed for multiple-use purposes. It belongs to all citizens and is managed so that we can all utilize the land - this is the mandate of the public trust. Once public lands are transferred or sold, there is no longer an obligation to manage and conserve the land in a way that prioritizes multiple-use.
Over half of Alaska land belongs to everyone.
Anyone who has spent any time in The Tongass National Forest knows what a treasure our public lands are. Public lands in Alaska support our bountiful commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries, the tourism and recreation industry, outdoor retailers and manufacturers and outfitters and guides, which in turn create thousands of jobs and bring billions to the economy.
But more than that, they support our way of life. If you live here, we bet you hunt, fish, forage, kayak, hike, ski, and adventure on public lands.
We're spending the next month celebrating the Tongass and Alaska's public lands. Join us! We'll be featuring stories and photographs for the next several weeks and we want to hear from you.
June 7, 2017
Contact: Mark Kaelke, Trout Unlimited, email@example.com, 907-321-4464
Alaskans who hunt and fish celebrate public lands in the Tongass National Forest
Thousands sign onto letter requesting public lands remain in the public trust
JUNEAU, AK – Today, thousands of business owners, guides, outfitters, hunters and anglers who support conserving and maintaining access to public lands released a letter urging Alaska’s congressional representatives and the Trump Administration to keep public lands in the public trust while celebrating the many uses of the Tongass National Forest.
The letter states: “As individuals that depend on access to abundant natural resources, we believe the Tongass National Forest must continue to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service on a multiple-use basis. We stand together in opposition to any effort to transfer management or ownership of Federal public lands in Southeast Alaska to State or private entities [and] any proposals that threaten to unreasonably restrict public access or would harm fish and game populations by eliminating essential federal conservation designations and measures, such as the Tongass 77.”
At its core, the letter expresses concern that transferring public lands into private hands will harm the resource-based economy and culture of Southeast Alaska. However, many signers participated as a celebration of their support for the numerous uses and benefits of the Tongass National Forest.
“The Tongass is open to all of us to use and enjoy. Visitors have once-in-a-lifetime experiences here, locals fill their freezers with game and fish from the Tongass, and business owners rely on the land and water for their livelihoods,” said Dan Blanchard, Captain and CEO of Uncruise Adventures. “We’re not only opposed to privatization of the public places we love, we’re also signing in celebration of all the Tongass gives us. We want the Tongass to be around forever.”
The letter highlights that public lands drive the private-sector economy of Southeast Alaska, by creating more than $2 billion in economic contribution and 25% of all jobs in the region annually.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TU on Facebook or visit us online at tu.org and americansalmonforest.org.