The Tongass National Forest is a wild salmon powerhouse. The wild salmon spawned and reared in the forest represent approximately 70 percent of all wild salmon harvested from our national forests, roughly 24 percent of Alaska’s overall salmon catch, about 30 percent of the salmon caught on the West Coast of the United States, and close to 13 percent of all salmon harvested on the Pacific Rim.
All five of North America’s Pacific salmon species are found in the Tongass National Forest: Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho (O. kisutch), pink (O. gorbuscha), sockeye (O. nerka) and chum (O. keta). In addition to salmon, the Tongass supports healthy populations of both the resident and anadromous forms of rainbow trout (O. mykiss), cutthroat trout (O. clarkii), and Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma).
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Tongass includes roughly 17,000 miles of clean, undammed creeks, rivers and lakes that provide optimal spawning and rearing conditions for the region’s copious wild Pacific salmon and trout. The very large, old-growth spruce and hemlock trees that line the river and creek bottoms here play a critical role in the success of Tongass salmon. These trees anchor stream banks, shade waterways in summer and insulate them in winter and provide key habitat when they eventually fall into rivers and creeks.
Click to see the work we are doing to ensure key areas of the forest for fish production remain intact.
The watersheds of the Tongass National Forest support abundant and diverse populations of wildlife, including some species that are found nowhere else in the world, and several species that have experienced population declines in the southern portion of their ranges.
Over 70 species of mammals large and small are found in the Tongass, including more brown bears than the entire Lower 48 states combined, as well as black bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, wolves, and marten. The watersheds of the Tongass also play host to moose, mountain goats, and elk.
In addition to the mammals, over 275 bird species (including 150+ breeding species) utilize the watersheds and coastlines of the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is home to the highest nesting density of bald eagles in the world, with some 7000 adult eagles inhabiting the Tongass year-round and another 5000+ non-breeding and juvenile eagles migrating south to Washington and Oregon for the winter.
Check your Tongass Fish Identification Skills!
Hover over the images below for the correct species name.