The controversial old-growth sale is on hold pending a review of how the proposed logging would potentially impact wolf, deer and bear populations on the island.
Big Thorne is the largest timber sale on the Tongass since the era of industrial logging on the Tongass when two large pulp mills and several medium-sized sawmills operated in Southeast Alaska. Most of the mills closed in the 1990s and the U.S. Forest Service, which largely manages the 17-million-acre Tongass, has pledged to transition away from old-growth logging. But it’s been slow in doing so.
The Big Thorne sale would produce up to 150 million board feet of timber. It would involve logging more than 6,000 acres of old growth and more than 2,000 acres of second-growth forest in a part of the Tongass that has already experienced heavy timber harvest.
Big Thorne has been criticized by conservation, fishing and sportsmens groups, including Trout Unlimited.
”Big Thorne, as it stands now, is a huge step backwards for the Tongass. Southeast Alaska’s economy revolves around fishing and tourism and this large timber sale directly threatens the jobs and revenue those industries produce. It makes no sense from an economic or ecological standpoint,” said Austin Williams, Trout Unlimited’s Forest Program Manager.
Read the Empire editorial by Emily Mount, a naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic and former Glacier Bay National Park ranger.