11:17 PM

Record of Decision Falls Short on Old-Growth Logging in Tongass National Forest


Media contact: Catalina Tresky: (202) 772-0253 or ctresky@defenders.org

Record of Decision Falls Short on Old-Growth Logging in Tongass National Forest

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Dec. 8, 2016) -- The U.S. Forest Service today released a decision regarding how logging will be managed for the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest at 17 million acres.

Statement from Defenders of Wildlife Alaska Representative Patrick Lavin:

“We’re both heartened and troubled by today’s decision regarding the Tongass National Forest Management Plan Amendment. On one hand, we appreciate that the Forest Service intends to guide logging away from old growth forests.  Transitioning out of old-growth logging will provide major conservation and economic benefits to Southeast Alaska and the nation.

“On the other hand, the amendment fails to set any actual limit on that old-growth logging, and actually allows more logging in the coming decade than has occurred over the past decade.

“We look forward to working with the Forest Service and all stakeholders to implement the amendment and ensure that its primary goal – to effect the transition out of industrial-level old-growth logging – is promptly achieved.”


The Tongass National Forest spans 500 miles of coastal Southeast Alaska, encompassing alpine meadows, deep fjords, calving glaciers, dense old‐growth rainforest, and over 1,000 islands and islets. Wildlands form the heart of America’s largest national forest within the most expansive temperate rainforest in the world. Salmon, bears, wolves, birds and myriad wildlife call the Tongass home. Many residents of the region and local businesses use and depend on the Tongass’ outstanding natural values, as well as visitors who come to see America’s last great rainforest.

The Forest Service embarked on a process to amend the Tongass Forest Plan following a 2013 memorandum from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that directed an expeditious transition away from old-growth logging on the forest. Old-growth logging destroys wildlife habitat and undermines the sustainable fishing, recreation and tourism sectors of the regional economy. It also undermines the fight against climate change by removing ancient trees and the carbon they sequester. 

While the Amendment does protect some priority conservation areas, its primary purpose was to effect a speedy transition away from old-growth logging, and it fails to provide for that. The absence of a clear limit on old-growth logging not only deprives the region of the many social and conservation values inherent in these forests, but also fails to send the necessary signal to the industry that now is the time to re-tool operations and embrace a transition to sustainable logging of primarily second-growth trees.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org. For the latest news from Defenders, follow us at @DefendersNews