The Alaska Regional Forester has awarded the U.S. Forest Service Partnership Award to The Nature Conservancy in Alaska in recognition of its “strong support and engagement in the Tongass National Forest restoration and forest stewardship programs.”
“Strong, committed partners like The Nature Conservancy make the work we do on the ground as land stewards in Alaska possible,” says Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton. “But what makes The Nature Conservancy stand out—what made them such a compelling candidate for the Regional Forester’s Award for Partnerships—is their dedicated work with so many local communities, conservation groups, government agencies, and Alaska Native tribes and corporations to realize healthier lands and communities in Southeast Alaska. They are truly a leader in this arena.”
The efforts of the Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service have included multiple on-the-ground restoration projects, convening the innovative Tongass Futures Roundtable, and working together to help the Tongass National Forest transition toward a more sustainable future.
“I am thrilled that the Tongass National Forest has recognized our work to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy by restoring salmon streams and support the transition to grow a young-growth industry. The Tongass National Forest has been a steadfast partner with us,” says Randy Hagenstein, the Conservancy’s Alaska State Director.
In recent years, the 16.8-million-acre Tongass National Forest has been undergoing a transition away from a focus on old-growth timber management and toward a focus on the harvest of young growth trees and the restoration of forests and streams, while also diversifying economic opportunities and creating jobs in renewable energy, mariculture, fishing and tourism.
One ongoing restoration project on Twelvemile Creek on Prince of Wales Island restores vital habitat in a key salmon-producing watershed. Other habitat restoration projects include Harris River, the stream now known as Gandlaay Haanaa, and Sal Creek.
“The watershed restoration accomplishments and community capacity building The Nature Conservancy has made possible here on the Tongass in recent years is truly amazing,” says Greg Killinger, a Tongass National Forest biologist who has helped lead a number of on-the-ground partnership projects.
The 17,000 miles of salmon streams in the Tongass National Forest produce an average of 28 percent of the Alaska wild salmon catch each year.
For more information, visit nature.org/alaska and fs.usda.gov/tongass.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.