Atop the list of exciting projects in store for Alaska are trail, cabin and campground projects. These recreation infrastructure projects are all desperately needed on the Tongass. A sample of what’s included for National Forests in Alaska include: Yakutat Cabin Maintenance, Juneau Ranger District Strike Team, Pack Creek Trail Reconstruction and Thayer Lake Shelter Repairs, and the El Cap Recreation Area improvements.
For Southeast Alaskans, marine access and transportation for guiding, fishing, hunting, subsistence, and getting to and from other communities is essential. GAOA funding will be used to address deferred maintenance issues on multiple docks and marine facilities, gangways, pads and piers throughout the Southeast Alaska region.
As you know, an alarmingly large number of the culverts and bridges on the Tongass fail to meet applicable standards for fish passage. More than 30% of all instances where forest roads cross fish streams on the Tongass—1,120 instances in total--fail to meet applicable standards for fish migration and disturb fish access to nearly 250 miles of salmon and trout streams! Poorly maintained or degraded forest roads make travel difficult or dangerous, increase erosion and degrade nearby streams, block fish passage and migration, and are expensive to maintain. This is one of the main reasons we are excited about road improvements being added to the priority with new GAOA funding.
It’s no surprise that outdoor recreation and recreation access is on the rise and continues to be one of the most important public services provided by the Forest Service. We are excited about the variety of maintenance and infrastructure projects that are planned for the Tongass.
Video by Rafe Hanson
The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States. Throughout the Tongass, there is one major theme: salmon.
From driving the jobs and industry in Southeast Alaska, to providing recreation opportunities for communities and travelers. The Tongass is America’s Salmon Forest. The watersheds that make up the Tongass are wild and their habitats are extremely valuable for these reasons. In order for them to continue to provide for the people of Alaska and its visitors, we need to conserve them for generations to come.
In collaboration with Sitka-based artist, Rafe Hanson, this video offers a glimpse of the beauty and wildness that is America’s Salmon Forest.
We can all agree that the Tongass National Forest is America's Salmon Forest.
Today, our friends at Sitka Conservation Society released "The Salmon Forest," a beautiful video celebrating one of the few places in the world where wild salmon and trout still thrive.
When you're done watching the video, sign your name to help conserve our Salmon Forest.
We’re seeing a renewed, comprehensive attack on National Forests in Alaska that seeks to turn over some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat on our public lands for development by special interests.
The Tongass is the Nation’s largest national forest and supplies habitat for the fisheries and ample recreation opportunity of the region. Combined, fishing and tourism supply 26% of the jobs in Southeast Alaska, but these important industries are being cast aside for outdated and unsustainable old-growth logging that accounts for less than 1% of regional jobs and costs taxpayers millions in annual federal subsidies.
Unfortunately, elected officials in the U.S. Congress and the State of Alaska continue to advance efforts to promote heavily-subsidized industrial uses of the Tongass or to privatize them through corporate giveaways and bad land swaps, ignoring impacts to sustainable industries that rely on intact habitat, beautiful scenery and wild places.
In recent months, the attack on the Tongass has spread to include the Chugach and has grown to include the following measures:
Alaska Native Allotment Act (S. 785/S. 1481
On February 7th the Senate Public Lands Subcommittee had a hearing on a series of bills, one of which stands to give away 620,000 acres of public lands. This is the first of a four-part blog series drilling down into the details of the so-called “Alaska Native Claims Settlement Improvement Act” S. 1481.
Email Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan to let them know you support keeping public lands public.
Can you imagine if 5,600 in-holdings at many of the most prized and beloved locations around Alaska all the sudden became private and off-limits to public access across the state?
Imagine “NO TRESSPASSING” signs within the heart of the world-famous Kenai Wildlife Refuge, on salmon-rich Prince of Wales Island, along famous steelhead rivers like the Situk, or even portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This nightmare could become a reality under a new bill promoted by Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan, called the “Alaska Native Veterans Allotments Act” (S. 785/S.1481).
Originally passed in 1906, the Alaska Native Allotment Act allowed qualifying Alaska Native individuals to select and receive 160 acres each from federal lands in Alaska. This program sunset when Congress passed ANCSA in 1971. Congress re-opened the program in 1998 for an 18-month period, and is looking to do so again for the third time.
We support Alaska Natives and our veterans. But when you dig down into this bill, it becomes clear that this bill isn’t really about addressing inequity; it’s a land grab. This bill is far too broad in scope, not only expanding the number of people who could qualify, but also expanding the kinds of lands that could be selected. This bill would remove important protections for fish and wildlife, and the land included could be logged, mined, developed or otherwise exploited for short-term gain, without concern for long-term consequences.
Altogether, here’s what the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act means for Alaska
Instead of giving away our public lands and making the places we love off-limits in a broad-brush attempt to liquidate our public lands, we should seek a more focused approach. We can find more creative ways to appropriately compensate individuals unjustly left out of Alaska’s century-old Allotment system, while still honoring and protecting the cultural and traditional ties of Alaska Natives to the land AND keeping our public lands public and important salmon protections in place.
Public lands are owned by all of us and these lands are managed for the benefit of all. History has shown that when public lands are privatized, they're exploited for short-term economic profit at the expense of our fish and wildlife, and our lucrative and sustainable fishing, hunting and tourism industries.