Defenders Of Wildlife: U.S. Forest Service Moves Backward On Old-Growth Logging

Defenders of Wildlife News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. Friday, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis project, proposing massive new old-growth clearcutting on the largest island in our nation’s largest forest. In 2016, the USFS committed to a transition out of old-growth logging and away from uneconomical and destructive timber sales like this proposal.
Defenders of Wildlife Senior Alaska Representative Pat Lavin issued the following statement:
The U.S. Forest Service committed to transition away from logging old-growth on the Tongass in 2016 because the agency correctly concluded that there is no future in clearcutting these magnificent forests.
Clearing old-growth forests on Prince of Wales is a return to the past – the island has already suffered some of the most intensive industrial-scale clear-cut logging on the Tongass. More taxpayer-subsidized logging won’t create many jobs but will threaten wildlife such as the Alexander Archipelago wolf, Sitka black-tailed deer, northern flying squirrel and many other old-growth dependent species.
“It’s time to bring a real transition to southeast Alaska – one that restores wildlife habitat and watersheds and supports the new sustainable economy of fishing and tourism, not unsustainable old-growth logging.
Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis Project
  • The Forest Service is proposing to cut 200 million board feet of old-growth forest – the largest old-growth sale on the Tongass in decades.
  • The sale dwarfs any project on the Tongass since the Ketchikan pulp mill was still in operation under a 50-year timber contract.
  • The sale is located in an area of the Tongass that has already experienced habitat loss from past logging – Alexander Archipelago wolves and their primary prey, Sitka black-tailed deer, are both jeopardized.
  • The Tongass supports vibrant sustainable fishing, recreation and tourism industries that are now the primary economic drivers in southeast Alaska after government employment, providing 25% of the region’s jobs and economic activity. In contrast, the timber industry provides less than 1% of the regions jobs and earnings. The timber industry has long struggled to make ends meet, costing taxpayers more than $130 million from 2009–2013 alone as timber sale receipts consistently fell far short of U.S. Forest Service expenses.
The Tongass National Forest — American’s Rainforest
  • The Tongass National Forest encompasses almost 17 million acres of wild forest in southeast Alaska.
  • It is the largest intact temperate rainforest reserve on the continent.
  • The low-elevation, large old-growth trees—some more than 800 years old—provide important fish and wildlife habitat.
  • However, old-growth forest only constitutes 4 percent of the forest and about half of that prime habitat has already been lost to destructive clearcutting.
  • The forest is home to five species of salmon, brown and black bears, bald eagles, wolves, mountain goats and Sitka black-tailed deer. Migratory birds that come from all over the continent spend the summer nesting and breeding in the Tongass. Off the coast, there are orca and humpback whales, sea lions, seals and sea otters.