Ancient Forests, Wolves, Wildlife and The Wrangell Timber Sale 

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposed timber sale  on Wrangell Island, which is in the Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle of southeastern Alaska. The island is just 30 miles long and 5 to 14 miles wide, contains an abundance of wildlife and is separated from the mainland by the Blake Channel.

The Forest Service released five alternatives in their draft environmental impact statement for the Wrangell Island Project on June 2nd. Its preferred alternative would allow two thirds of the acreage to be selectively harvested and a third clear cut, producing about 65 million board feet, and could build up to 17 miles of new national forest roads, some of which will stay open to the public and about 15 miles of temporary roads. The earliest timber sale would be mid to late summer 2017, and targets the largest, highest-value tree stands, which are generally the areas that are also most ecologically important to the forest and wildlife that live there. It seems that, once again, the Forest Service has disregarded the evidence of the probable impacts of its timber program on wolves, other wildlife populations, salmon, and critical habitat necessary for their survival.
The five alternatives range from about 43 million board feet to 65 million or no timber sale at all.

Buck Lindekugel, an attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), said “Instead of cutting the rest of the old growth that supports a whole variety of uses on Wrangell Island, the Forest Service ought to look at ways of integrating stewardship, restoration activities and supplying timber off the existing road system to the small mills in the area.”

17 miles of new national forest roads!
Already wolf hunting is rife on Wrangell Island with “bag limits” of 5 wolves and portions of the island are subject to Alaska’s infamous “intensive predator management program” encouraging even further reduction of the wolf population. As we have seen on Prince of Wales, logging and roads initiate many harmful effects, including the “overharvest”, ie. poaching, of wolves.

The time has come for Southeast Alaska to no longer rely on the timber industry as an economic driver. The Forest Service should manage the National Forests in Southeast Alaska for a host of public values that support the tourism and fishing economy of today; the driving economic forces are, and continue to be, tourism and recreation.

In your own words, please comment against the proposed Wrangell Timber Sale. Tell the Forest Service that you support “Alternative 1 – which is the “no-action” alternative because in this alternative, none of the proposed activities would occur. Only approved forest management activities not related to the proposed project can and would continue, and road management would be based on the already existing access and travel management plan for Wrangell Island.

Comments can be made via email to comments-alaska-tongass-wrangell@fs.fed.us  with “Wrangell Island Project” in the subject line.

*COMMENTS SHOULD BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN JULY 18, 2016. Comments, including anonymous comments, will be accepted at any time. However, comments posted after the close of the designated comment period (July 18th) may not be able to be given full consideration.

Please also sign this petition:

No logging in places critical for Tongass wildlife and wild salmon, from Alaska Wilderness League.

The Tongass offers the country’s largest remaining swath of ancient forest, as well as an estimated one third of the world’s remaining temperate rainforest. It is far past time for an end to old-growth logging and destruction of habitat essential for endemic species found only in this biologically rich region.

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For additional, in depth, information  please see Wrangell Island Project Draft | Environmental Impact Statement

Related content:

The economic reality of Alaska’s timber industry

Senator should heed council on Tongass, accept compromise

The future of the Tongass Forest lies beyond logging

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Anti-Environmental Poison Pill Riders

Two Political Trainwrecks in the Making.

And they’re off! Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees finished work on their respective versions of the federal spending bill that funds the Department of the Interior, the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service. Both bills are loaded with ideological riders that would block or eliminate protections for our air, water, climate, public health, endangered species, forests and other public lands.

A rider is a provision that either makes a change in law directly or, more commonly, prohibits an agency from using its funds to carry out specific duties under a law or rule. One example would be a rider that prevents the EPA from setting or enforcing limits on air pollution from power plants. Another rider might stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting certain creatures as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The House Appropriations Committee imbedded nearly 40 anti-environmental riders into its spending bill before it was voted out of the committee on June 15. It now includes riders that would remove Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in Wyoming and the upper Midwest and deny farmworkers the right to grant a family member, physician or labor representative access to information on pesticides they have been exposed to. Riders in the bill would also block new national monument designations, the president’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and the Clean Water Rule that protects the drinking water of one in three Americans. In addition, riders in the bill seek to stop the implementation of a 2015 rule to reduce smog nationwide, as well as an effort by the Department of the Interior to control air pollution from offshore oil development.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its spending bill on June 16. It too contains more than a dozen anti-environmental riders. It has riders that seek to undermine public involvement and environmental impact analysis of logging projects in national forests. Its riders would also prevent the Obama administration from reducing old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Also included are riders to stop the Department of the Interior’s work on a rule to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining and to keep mining companies from having to foot the bill for the future hazardous waste contamination that they cause. The bill, with its riders, would also prevent the government from carrying out endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken, and it contains the wolf delisting and Clean Water Rule riders as well.

As they left for their July 4th recess House leadership said they intended to bring this spending bill to the House floor early next month, where even more bad riders are likely to be added. It is doubtful the Senate can bring its bill to the floor before the fiscal year ends on September 30. However, all of these poison pill riders will be poised to be part of the year-end, back-room mudwrestling that will occur after the November elections when Congress tries pass a single measure to fund the government.

Between now and then it’s vital that our elected officials understand the American public does not support these back-door assaults on our air, water, climate, workers, wildlife and public lands. The job of Congress is to fund the government, not craft sweetheart riders for polluters.

Written by Martin Hayden, Earthjustice  Vice President, Policy & Legislation

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Take a moment of your time to oppose H.R. 5538 (Department of Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act) here via popvox.

Also stand opposed to S. 3068 (the Senate version of this appropriations bill) here, via popvox.

You may also contact your elected officials easily through democracy.io here.

Tell your elected officials that you are opposed to riders that would remove protections from wolves, block or eliminate protections for our air, water, climate, public health, endangered species, forests and other public lands.

Please be sure that you have signed these petitions:

Stop 30 plus deadly riders from unraveling environmental protections, from Earthjustice: Sign this.

Help shut down Congress’ sneak attack on wolves via NRDC: Sign this

Protect Wolves from Congressional Attacks via Endangered Species Coalition:  Sign this and this.

Protect the ESA From Political Attacks via Earthjustice:  Sign this

Stop this anti-wildlife assault on Capitol Hill, new petition from Defenders: Sign this

Photos with permission by Chris Montano Jr.