Below are two letters that I've recently sent to the editors of the Anchorage Daily News, as well as the Juneau empire.
As a lifelong Alaskan, I was elated to see the Forest Service announce it is finally ending old-growth, clear-cut logging in the Tongass. For far too long, we’ve taken our forests and the fish and wildlife it produces for granted. We need to care for the land, invest in sustainable economic opportunities, and conserve our salmon, deer and forests. The Tongass gives so much to our communities and our way of life. It’s long overdue that we give something back.
The Forest Service’s new Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy puts things on the right track by recognizing our communities and economy rely on a healthy forest. By restoring lands that have been degraded by past logging activities, investing in our communities, and managing the Tongass to help cope with impacts from climate change, we will all benefit.
Published online August 7, 2021
Sent to Juneau Empire August 10, 2021. Not yet published.
As a life long Alaskan, and a resident of Juneau for the last 11 years, I was beyond excited to learn about the latest decision to return protections to the bountiful Tongass. The importance of old-growth is often overlooked and misunderstood, but the impacts are immense. Consider the biodiversity. The Birds, Deer, Salmon, Bears, and Trees all rely on each other, and when they’re happy and fed and growing this only helps with the Economy here in Southeast. Bringing in tourism revenue, jobs, as well as sustaining us with food, clean air and water. The Tongass is recognized as being one of the greatest carbon storage reserves on the planet, holding roughly 8% of all carbon stored in U.S. National Forests. While there is an argument for logging and the income it brings in, it really is responsible for less than 1% of the regional economy in Southeast Alaska. Comparing that to the tourism and fishing industries which accounts for nearly $500 million a year.
The Forest Service’s new Southeast Sustainability Strategy is a step in the right direction with recognition that our communities and economy heavily rely on a healthy and thriving forest. When we restore forests that have been scarred by logging, invest in the communities, and help the Tongass cope with the ever worsening effects of climate change, we all benefit.