Forest Service seeks local partners in managing Tongass National Forest

U.S. Forest Service officials say they are hoping for a collaborative effort of varied interests to help shape the future of forest management in the Tongass National Forest.

“We want to know what Southeast Alaska wants to see as far as forest management on the Tongass, identify locations where we can work collaboratively to the greatest benefit, and help finalize the criteria we’ll use to prioritize work for the next 10 years,” said Frank Sherman, acting supervisor of the Tongass. “Instead of commenting on a plan we present, we’re asking folks to help develop it.”

The Forest Service is looking to hear from local tribes, Alaska Native corporations, communities, partners, and the public in planning its Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy. The sustainability strategy supports a diverse economy, enhances community resilience, and conserves natural resources in Southeast Alaska.

The Forest Service is also looking to hear project recommendations related to watershed and wildlife habitat restoration, sustainable young-growth harvest and old-growth harvest for cultural uses, and small sales to support local communities.

Plans are to host in-person workshops, virtual webinars, and community events to introduce the collaborative effort, ask for input, demonstrate how to provide feedback, and brainstorm on a final action plan, they said.

Participants will be asked what they feel are the most important benefits integrated forest management can produce for their communities. Those benefits may range from jobs and wood products, to thinning the forest for improved wildlife habitat, or biomass fulfilment and healthy watersheds. The public’s input will help the Forest Service better plan and develop projects that reflect diverse needs and the values of residents who live in and depend on the Tongass, they said.

Advertisement

Participants may also propose areas where numerous resource activities can be addressed in a single effort, providing ecological, economic, and cultural benefits. An interactive story map will aid in pinpointing locations and an assessment tool will be made available to assist in demonstrating the projects’ level of integration.

For a schedule of upcoming workshops and webinars, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/r10/sass. The virtual sessions will be held on Zoom. For additional information on public engagement in forest management, contact Barb Miranda at [email protected].  

Advertisement