Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 20, 2015

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,  

Forest Service Amendment to Tongass Plan Continues Old-growth Clearcutting

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— The U.S. Forest Service today issued a Draft Environment Impact Statement to amend the Land Management Plan for the Tongass National Forest, a world-class rainforest in southeast Alaska. The amendment was intended to direct a transition away from decades of controversial and damaging old-growth logging, but the preferred alternative would allow continued clearcutting of remaining old-growth forest for many years. The release begins a 90-day public comment period and hearings on the plan.

“Business-as-usual serves the timber industry, but not the Tongass, the salmon, wolves and other wildlife it harbors. This plan drags out what should be a rapid transition away from old-growth logging,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The preferred alternative will only prolong controversy and harm to this world-class fishery, the Alexander Archipelago wolf and the temperate rainforests that are so important to the planet.”

The DEIS’s preferred alternative aims to end most old-growth logging within 16 years. While some important watersheds would become off limits to old-growth logging, the plan still calls for high levels of old-growth clearcuts — 490 million board feet of old growth to be logged over the next 15 years.

“This plan would allow more disastrous timber sales like the Big Thorne, which has been the subject of bitter court battles,” said Spivak. “The Forest Service refused to consider ending old-growth clearcutting in five years, as many conservation groups have called for.”

“Clearcutting the Tongass undermines economic sustainability, from fishing to tourism, all for a declining timber industry that provides about 100 jobs in Prince of Wales. The future of the Tongass lies in protecting and restoring its world class fisheries,” Spivak said. “As President Obama and other world leaders prepare to reach a crucial accord on climate change in Paris, nations need to protect carbon-rich rainforests like the Tongass instead of promoting their rapid destruction.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back