800-Year-old trees are at risk, help save Tongass National Forest
Do you know the name of the largest national forest in the United States? It is the Tongass National Forest, and it is situated in southeastern Alaska, in what is called the Panhandle. Why am I asking you this question?. It is because today,10th of September 2018 I got a newsletter from Sierra Club which entailed some disturbing news.
Destructive forces at work
The Trump administration wants to make a deal with Alaskan authorities to open up Tongass for logging and road construction. It is amazing at what speed the destructive forces of this administration operates. Remember Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante? Ancient sites, huge fossil findings, and nature on the whole with all its right full inhabitants to be destroyed. Then came the idea of starting to drill on most of the U.S. coast.
Hearing about these awful issues, I feel our planet would be much better off without us. Humanity is a destructive species with an alarming capacity of ruining beautiful and valuable things. Then again, there are many people who do care about Mother Earth. These people plant trees, collect the plastic from our oceans or find solutions to give clean drinking water to millions of people worldwide.
To me, it seems an ongoing battle between good and bad. Let us hope good will win in the end before we have destroyed our habitat.
I would like to tell you a bit about the history of the Tongass National Forest. 2 important bits of data before I start.
- The Tongass stores 10% of the carbon stored by all the national forests combined, that is important environmental data. Tongass National Forest is the largest in the United States. It has an area of 16.7 million acres (68.000 km2) and its situation is so remote that it gives safe haven for many endangered species of fauna and flora. It is managed by the United States Forest Service and besides fjords and glaciers, it also encompasses the islands of the Alexander Archipelago.
- The Tongass attracts over 1 million visitors each year. They come to enjoy the beauty and clean air. Families show their children how to be in harmony with nature while having a great day outdoors. Fathers will show their sons the tricks of fishing, and they can catch some good salmon. The total represents 2 billion in revenue that the forest supports.
A little of history about this wonderful place
On the 20th of August 1902, through a proclamation by President Roosevelt, the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve was founded. A few years later, on the 10th of September of 1907, a new presidential proclamation created the Tongass National Forest. In 1908 on the first of July the 2 forests were joined and now cover most of Southeast Alaska.
The Tongass Timber Reform Act
Many things happened over the years. After World War II, the Forest Service set up long-term contracts with 2 pulp mills. After lawsuits about who can cut and how much, the end result was that by the middle of the 1990s, they had removed more than half of the old-growth timber.
In 1990 the Tongass Timber Reform Act rewrote the relationship with the logging industry. New wilderness areas were established and other places became off-limit to the logging companies
. These companies became limited in their movement and were subject to environmental review. In 1993 and 1997, the 2 biggest companies closed down after the companies stated the limitations made them noncompetitive.
The Road-less Initiative
There is another issue which is very important that is the roads. Roads are valuable because they connect the local communities and enable the visitors to move around. Visitors who come for trekking, fishing, hunting, and recreation. But roads were constructed mainly for the movement of timber cut through native forests and were primarily loose rock filled with soil.
Once you cut a clearing through the forest and grade the road to establish a path big enough for equipment to remove timber, you cut through the established network of roots, fallen timber, and detritus and expose the loose rock and unconsolidated soil to the potential for erosion. As I stated before, the Tongass is in the Alaskan Panhandle, which is on the Pacific coast. This area receives a lot of rain.
You can visualize an uncontrolled network of roads cutting across hills and destroying entire hillsides and potentially providing the impetus for massive mudslides. The road-less Initiative that included The Tongass National Forest was passed on the 5th of January 2001 to prevent this kind of erosion from happening. They signed this initiative during the last days of the Clinton Administration.
With the following president, there was an attempt to nullify the Road-less rule. A lot of hassle, but no roads were built. Then-President Obama gave green light to clear-cut on 381 acres in the remaining old-growth forest of a Tongass National road-less area. This did not happen as a lawsuit stopped timber sales.
Come and have a look at this majestic forest. Take your time to watch this video.
The largest temperate rainforest in the world
The environmental groups call Tongass the Great Bear Rainforest. It is Earths largest remaining temperate rainforest, with western red cedar, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock. Along the coasts of its thousand islands, you can find 5 species of salmon. The forest is the habitat of brown and black bears, wolves, mountain goats, and Sitka black-tailed deer.
You will be able to see the bald eagles and ravens roam the sky, and many migratory birds come to build their nests during the summer months on the archipelago. In the sea, you will be able to observe Orca and humpback whales together with sea lions, seals, and porpoises. A real heaven on earth.
Up to 40% of this vast area is wetlands, snow, ice, and rock. No trees grow in this part. Some 10 million acres do have a forest growing, and they consider half of this area productive old-growth of which 4.500,000 acres are wilderness areas. Of all the old growth in the forest, only 11% of the remaining area will ever be harvested.
Stop the imminent destruction of the forest
Today, 12th of September 2018, I received a second email from Sierra Club. The situation is getting more and more serious. The deadline to react is October the 15th. Hopefully, the people will speak up to avoid this catastrophe. It seems that the Trump administration, together with Senator Lisa Murkowski and the Alaska Delegation, instead of protecting this beautiful and valuable place, want to destroy it.
These highly vulnerable and valuable areas on our planet, where carbon dioxide is being absorbed are disappearing at an alarming rate. These valuable places where unique and endangered species live in peace are being destroyed. How will future generations think of our stupid and destructive actions? We have an obligation to take care of Mother Nature; she offers so many things for us to enjoy. We should stop destroying it.
If you would like to contact Sierra Club, you can do here: reply@emails,sierraclub.org
Here is a link to a recent article. It is not clear if the chopping of the trees has started yet. I hope it never will and all inhabitants, be it animal or human, can continue with their life. Planting new trees can never really diminish the crime of cutting 800 years old trees that have cleaned the air for so many years.
Some excellent news
It is January of 2023 and some very good news has come my way. I am really happy to read this article as it means that Tongass will be saved. Here you can read about it.
Before you leave, have a look at Recommendations. It is a special page I made for you with a collection of things you might find interesting.
Source: Wikipedia and Sierra Club
Photo Source: Pixabay.
You might like to read about a great initiative, planting new trees.
I feel so sad and can really relate your situation at my workplace. The area surrounding my workplace is full of greens 10 years ago. But due to rapid development, our natural habitats are destroyed. Recently, there is land clearing on the reason of “development”. I saw many monkeys lost their habitats. I feel so sorry for them. Is development so important to the extent that we are willing to risk extinction?
Good Morning Florence,
Thank you for leaving a comment on my post. You tell me where you live you have seen nature disappear because of development. Also that monkeys have lost their habitat. I am curious to hear where you live?
Humans are ruining the planet and because of that, we put our own existence in peril. Bees are rapidly disappearing and eventually will cause the human race to disappear.
The money earned now without thinking of the future generations will be our downfall, so be it.
Still, there are many good initiatives worldwide, people planting trees, cleaning up the oceans, and going organic. I do hope it is enough to save our habitat.
Wow what a beautiful place, I would be so sad to see it get torn apart by big business. You do a great job passionately describing your points of view and combining striking visuals too. I can see you truly care for the environment and I am sure that with people like you bringing attention to what is going on in our world, more people will come around to those views to. Many thanks, kenny
Good afternoon Kenny,
Thank you for leaving this nice comment on my website. Yes, I am passionate about nature in general. Fauna and Flora had my interest already from the time I was a small girl. I live on a farm in the south of Spain since 1981. I love to observe the small happenings on my property. As my neighbor with his big avocado farm, bordering on 3 sides to my property, has gone organic also, this here has become a little paradise filled with life.
When I read about awful things happening in the world I often feel an urge to write about it. I also hope a lot of people hear about this and will unite forces to stop this destruction.
This is the first time I’m hearing about Tongass, and you’re so right, this is unbelievable! It is criminal. People who do not take care of Mother Earth do not deserve a place on this earth! I feel very strongly for environmental protection, so I feel the pain in your heart as I read your blog. Thanks for raising awareness, really hope it doesn’t go through.
Good afternoon Joo,
I also pray this crazy idea will not happen. There are more National Parks in danger in the U.S. I have written on Bears Ears, one other sad episode in the history of this country.
I wish people would think before destroying beautiful and valuable nature, alas, it often happens.
Thank you for visiting my website, I hope to see you again.
Thanks for your post on the Tongass National Forest. I haven’t visited Alaska, yet, but I’d like to, and I’d like to check out this national treasure. The nation is blessed with such beautiful natural wonder; we ought to be more focused, as you are, on raising public awareness on the need to preserve these unique locations. I was educated through the reading of your post and by the video that you included. I had heard of the forest you describe, but hadn’t known that it was a temperate rain forest–a rain forest in Alaska: who knew?!Thanks again. Looking forward to future posts.
Good Morning Kevin,
It is really sad to see that the beautiful planet we are blessed to live on is destroyed at such an alarming speed.
What we destroy in a day might take hundreds of years to be repaired. Sometimes it cannot be repaired and is lost forever to perhaps live on as a legend in history.
Thank you for your comment, I hope to see you again.
Hi Taetske, This really makes me want to weep. When I was growing up in the 70’s we were always outside and playing, There were green fields and trees everywhere and they were in every part of town and the town was surrounded completely as far as the eye could see. This is now not the case. I live in the UK but as a whole we are destroying this world which was such a beautiful place not so long ago. I think to some degree we have done so much damage we may already be past the point where we can fix it. Unless we come together as one unit, and say no more and instead of these empty gestures and accords (that no one sticks too) actually do something drastic. I fear for all of us and the future generations.
A very sad Emma
Good Morning Emma,
I feel like you so I understand you very well. I was blessed growing up in Holland in an area which also had a lot of trees. Now I live on a farm in the south of Spain since 1981 and the trees I planted, in the beginning, are now big and beautiful.
This story of the Tongass park upset me so much I had to write about it. More nasty things are happening in the U.S, other National Parks are suffering also.
Humans are so very able to destroy, building up seems to be less of a concern to a lot of people. We should be ashamed at what we pass on to our future generations.
Still, one should not give up hope as one sees a waking up of people worldwide, they become more conscious about the beautiful place we are allowed to live in. I hope it is not too late.
This is rally sad and disappointing. I really think that we are closing to the robots era. Technology has improved that much that it is incredible and we remove the greenery. Trees are very helpful for our climate and especially those that are that old but I think that tree cutting have just started which is really sadly.
Good Morning Daniel,
Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. Indeed we are close, sometimes I think already in, this robot era. I say this as I think we have lost our feelings, preferring money. You can see the consequences of this where ever you look in the world but some countries are worse than others.
Thanks for sharing this very alarming articles! I could feel your sentiment for this atrocious news that are happening nowadays. I wonderful what life (as we know it) would become if we continue to see trees are cutting down at an alarming rate, things might not be the same that we are used to. we might experience the catastrophic wrath of mother nature in no time. And What about our future generation, does the future still has something in store for them? It’s hard to answer.
Good Morning Glenda,
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
There are still people who do not believe in Global Warming but I think that Mother Nature already shows us in multiple ways that she is not happy with our destructive actions.
If we continue like this the planet future generations will have to live on will be a lot less beautiful for sure.
I so enjoyed your article – even though it was very sad. Heads up to you for speaking for the trees!
National Parks are close to my heart as I actually live in one – Victoria Falls National Park.
The Tongass National Park sounds amazing – I loved the idea of no roads! I so wish we had the same thing here.
Sadly, there are many building projects on the go right now and residential homes being put in and many areas have been cleared of trees. The little sleepy Vic Falls tourist town is becoming a hive of activity!
Happily, the area around the Zambezi River Bank and the Falls themselves are kept natural and are beautiful!
I hope the right folk read your article.
Good Morning, what is your name?
Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. It must be difficult, living in a beautiful place as you say to see nature disappearing. So sad that we humans too often destroy all that is beautiful and forms a habitat for Fauna and Flora. Everything is related and also everything is needed to keep a good balance. I do get the impression that humans are not needed at all and that Mother Earth would be better off without us.
Let me know how things are going in Victoria Falls National Park.
Thank you so much for sharing the news with us about the Tongass National Forest. It is really upsetting that this administration is trying to speed up the process of getting rid of this place. We are are doing just fine (as human) without having to invade these animal habitats. I just do not get it why we want to destroy something that give us clean air. Is there a petition site that we can sign to stop this organized crime? I will also send the email to Sierra Club as well.
Good Morning Nuttanee,
Nice to see you again and thank you for your comment.
It is sad to see that the greed of a few can cause such destruction on the earth. Trees are so important as they provide clean air. These trees are 800 years old and over that long period have provided clean air for all living things.
That is a good idea to contact Sierra Club. You can sign up for their newsletter. I am sure they will be able to tell you if somewhere there is a petition going which you can join.
All I can say is WOW!! I never knew this place existed. This would be a site I would love to visit. While I know the importance of protecting and preserving nature, this article gave me a completely new perspective and appreciation for nature and the wildlife that inhabit these areas. It’s crazy to think how we humans try to continually destroy the only planet we can call home.
I hope this article helps people to remember that we have to co-exist with nature. We were all given this planet to share. It provides us with life and in turn it should be our job to protect it.
Good Morning Roberta,
Thank you for visiting my website and for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
I would also love to visit the Tongass Forest. I live in the south of Spain so Alaska is not next door. On top come the travel restrictions, but one can dream.
I fully agree with your words. We are doing a poor job protecting Mother Earth. She is so generous providing us with everything we need, but it seems too many people do not appreciate that. These people want money now, not thinking of the consequences their destructive actions have.
And here I thought I had heard of all the National Parks in the US, but I had never heard of Tongass National Forest! One of my FB friends turned out to be an avid supporter of T. and thought it was stupid that Biden stopped that devastating pipeline (sorry, I forgot the name). The reason being that it cost jobs. And in the meanwhile forgetting that if there is no earth left, there are no jobs either. Pfff. I get so tired of these people, what is wrong with them?
With you I am crossing my fingers the trees will not be knocked down. I read an article the other day about a Chinese photographer who is taking pictures of trees that are moved from their habitat to new concrete cities. The younger trees survive more or less, the older trees don’t. Stupid.
Good afternoon Hannie,
Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. Remember you can download a PDF of your choice at the tulip widget?
I agree with you. The key Stone pipeline was one of the destructive ideas of President Trump.
President Biden stopped the Key Stone pipeline. That was a good thing. Those people who work there have a job for 2 or 3 years and then they move to a new project. It would be much better to have a job in some green energy project.
The article on the trees is so sad. I saw the Spanish film El Olivo,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Olive_Tree_(2016_film)
Very stupid to destroy trees as they provide our oxygen. When will people learn?