Ten years go, when the last Tongass Land Management Plan was assembled, the U.S. Forest Service TLMP planning team carefully determined a projected timber demand over the next period, and then, purely as an accident, doubled it. This was, without doubt, one of those annoying clerical mistakes that are so easy to make and so easy to overlook.
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It continued to be overlooked, despite reminders, until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals tapped the Forest Service on the shoulder, so to speak, and told the Forest Service to fix its error. Hence we have the TLMP revision now being offered.
While it is fun to dream of the Tongass forest supervisor's office slapping its collective forehead and squealing, "One hundred percent error! How embarrassing!" I'd like to draw attention to the new TLMP. It should speed the repair of habitat damaged or destroyed by past logging. There is a great deal of this, ranging from high feeder creeks choked by slash or landslides to closed-in clearcuts to blowdowns in wildlife transit corridors to collapsed bridges and culverts. You almost certainly know a hillside or creek valley that you can't get into or won't bother going into because for 30 years it's been nothing that can be called a forest.
Locally, the Forest Service has an energetic and imaginative habitat restoration program that is being strangled because in some perverse way it is supposed to pay for itself. Meanwhile, Tongass-wide, the timber cutting program is being force-fed $28.3 million a year and losing $28 million of that to produce more clearcuts (according to Southeast Alaska Conservation Council figures). In the upcoming comment period on the TLMP, it might be a good idea to assist the Forest Service in its allocation of effort and say that the hole is deep enough - stop digging. Personally, I would like to see $5 million a year devoted to habitat restoration in the northern Tongass, and then doubled. Accidentally, if necessary.
Comments on the revised TLMP are due April 12.
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