In Alaska’s Tongass, people are coming together to map out a positive future for a single watershed. They’re focused on a 200,000-acre region of the Tongass National Forest on Prince of Wales Island known as the Staney area.
In many ways, the nature of Staney is much like the greater Tongass: It’s a watershed with productive salmon streams, old-growth forest, and a network of logging roads linking stands of second-growth forest.
Bringing People Together
The people who participated in the collaborative Staney process brought a range of concerns for the region, including ensuring that deer habitat remains plentiful, protecting old growth forest, restoring second-growth forest, restoring salmon passage, and providing forest products and increasing the number of local jobs.
The Staney process is innovative in that it invites more citizen participation in the forest planning process.
“We tried to get people who may not always agree to come together and chart out a future for the Staney watershed, and we've been successful. The final report speaks for itself,” says Michael Kampnich, the Conservancy’s Prince of Wales Island field representative. “We believe this collaborative process could become a model for community forestry projects throughout the Tongass and even the entire national forest system.”
What People Recommend
As the U.S. Forest Service formulates its plans for the Staney area, participants ask that the agency give the Staney Community Forestry Project report special consideration.
This report outlines how the Staney process participants envision the area in 25-50 years. It includes a wide range of recommendations. They include:
- Ensure deer habitat remains abundant;
- Maintain adequate old-growth habitat for species such as black bears, deer, and goshawks;
- Restore salmon streams to improve connectivity between upstream and downstream portions;
- Create a reliable supply of timber in an effort to spur local investment and employ people year-round;
- Manage the forest for a range of forest products, from biomass to music wood;
- Consider the uncertainties of climate change in management decisions.