The 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) provides enormous protections for fish, wildlife, recreation, tourism and subsistence. Implementation of that plan will allow harvest of up to 4 percent of the Tongass over the next 100 years. The plan also maintains all 6 million acres of wilderness (35 percent of the Tongass) and maintains another seven million acres of roadless areas (43 percent of the Tongass). The 4 percent to be harvested over the next century will come from within the 22 percent that is currently zoned for development. That 22 percent includes existing roads in areas harvested in the past as well as roaded are in and around many communities in Southeast Alaska.
The amendment to end the appeals and lawsuits of the 1997 TLMP and to exempt Alaska from the Roadless Rule would allow the Forest Service to prepare environmental impact statements for timber sales as envisioned under Clinton's 1997 plan. Those individual EISs can still be appealed and litigated.
This is hardly a reason to fear a pending environmental catastrophe, but it will allow the timber industry to begin to restore some of the jobs that have been lost over the last 10 years.