Public lands drive the private-sector economy of Southeast Alaska. With abundant salmon runs, large deer and bear populations, and incredible scenery, the Tongass serves as a foundation for commercial fishing, outfitter and guide, and tourism industries.
The Tongass National Forest’s public land area origins date to 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter and naturalist, issued a proclamation declaring it the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve. Five years later, Roosevelt signed another proclamation, creating a separate Tongass National Forest. Both areas were officially combined on July 1, 1908. An additional proclamation, signed in 1909, added more Southeast lands and islands, bringing the total area of the Tongass National Forest to what it is today: 16.8 million acres - making it America’s largest national forest.
Amongst towering mountains rising directly from the sea, flow almost 15,000 miles of rivers and streams. These rivers and streams support five species of wild Pacific Salmon, steelhead, Char and trout making it a true “salmon forest”. Fishing and tourism industries support about 26% of jobs in Southeast Alaska and are a $2 billion annual industry. With its vast expanses of remote and undeveloped lands, the Tongass is one of the world’s last largely intact temperate rainforests. The Tongass is home to large populations of brown and black bear, bald eagles and Sitka Black-tailed deer. Moose, mountain goats, wolves and a wide variety of birds and waterfowl also call the Tongass home.