Birds chirping, skunk cabbage blossoming and snow melting are all positive signs that spring is emerging in Southeast Alaska. After the long winter, getting out on the water is sweeter than ever right now.
The return of spring, and fish, is an annual reminder of why we work hard to conserve important freshwater habitat in the Tongass throughout the year. Despite a challenging year, our team hasn't let up and I'd like to share what TU’s American Salmon Forest team has been up to in Southeast Alaska.
Please let Kayla know if you have any questions about our work on any of the areas below.
At the end of 2020, the U.S. Forest Service announced its decision to remove protections for more than 9 million acres of roadless areas on the Tongass, despite 96% of public comments, Tribes, and local businesses all supporting the roadless rule. However, we are hopeful that science and public interest will prevail and we will have another chance for our voices to be heard. Recently-confirmed Secretary, Tom Vilsack, stated the Forest Service will do what’s needed to protect forests and is looking for “creative ways” to do that. We will continue working with the Forest Service to recognize the importance of the Tongass’ fish, wildlife, and backcountry roadless areas.
If you'd like to get more involved in our work to conserve public lands in the Tongass, we are always looking for volunteers to write letters to the editor, help us host (virtual) events, and much more. If you’re interested, contact Kayla.
In the meantime, keep sharing your Tongass photos on Instagram and tag us at @AmericanSalmonForest!
During the 2020 fishing season, our Fish Habitat Mapping Project added six new streams and nearly 9,000 linear feet of salmon and steelhead habitat to the State of Alaska’s Anadromous Waters Catalog. Additionally, we documented four new fish species (steelhead, cutthroat, pink salmon, and Dolly Varden) within six streams and one lake where they weren’t previously thought to reside. This improved habitat protections for a grand total of more than 84,500 feet of salmon, steelhead and trout habitat. We plan to continue our work in 2021, and add more species and waters to the Anadromous Waters Catalog throughout the Tongass.
We recently hosted a virtual event, Subsurface. To hear more from the project lead Mark Hieronymus, you can listen to the recording here. For more information on how you can get involved, check out our community science page, or contact to Mark with questions.
The Tongass National Forest is a haven, providing cold, clean water and refuge for fish and wildlife throughout Southeast Alaska. The forest stores hundreds of millions of tons of carbon in its trees and soils. Logging mature and old-growth timber reduces this storage capacity, speeding up the effects of climate change. Climate change harms fish and wildlife habitat by changing water temperatures, increasing the severity of drought and floods, increasing erosion, and contributing to more severe weather conditions. All of this adds to the stresses put on fish and wildlife by other activities, such as logging roads, and can put once-healthy populations at risk and push already-struggling populations closer to the brink. Learn more about climate on the Tongass here.
Take action to stop industrial clear-cut logging of old-growth forest and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Joel Jackson, the Tribal President of the Organized Village of Kake, wrote an opinion piece on the importance of the Tongass to the Keex Kwaan people's way of life. Joel recounted data released by Wild Heritage depicting the impacts of logging in the Tongass and the critical role the forest plays in helping the U.S. achieve our goals to reduce carbon emissions. Jackson states, “protection for the Tongass is not only integral to our way of life, it is also critical to meeting the world’s climate mitigation challenges.”
In a recent New York Times article for The World Through a Lens, Colin Arisman shares beautiful images and thoughts from the Alaska coast and how the area is economically and culturally dependent on fishing. “Each summer, millions of salmon — after maturing in the ocean — begin their journey back to the rivers in which they were spawned. Fishermen, along with whales, eagles and bears, share in the abundance.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been producing a weekly Fish of the Week! podcast, and TU staff, Mark Hieronymus, (along with retired fish biologist, Roger Harding) joined this week's conversation about Oncorhynchus mykiss, AKA the Rainbow Trout and Steelhead! Listen here.
Nationwide, fish-habitat projects taken on by groups called Fish Habitat Partnerships are changing communities for the better through research, restoration, protection, and education. Fish Habitat Partnerships bring nontraditional partners together to ensure resilient and vibrant fish habitat and communities. In the Tongass, we are lucky to have the Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership doing this important work. Read this great article through Fish Alaska Magazine highlighting the accomplishments of the Fish Habitat Partnerships throughout Alaska.
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