Tongass National Forest: Must-Know Information and Guide
Located in the southeast of Alaska, United States is a massive national forest with 16.7 million acres of land and is the largest temperate rainforest in the world, combining with Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest in the South. The beautiful Tongass National Forest carries a great amount of fish and wildlife, consisting of all five species of Pacific salmon, brown bears, wolves, Sitka black-tailed deer, Bald eagles, Northern Goshawks, and the Marbled Murrelets.
The Tongass is an archipelago of endless lush valleys, glacial fjords, and streams. Most of its areas are covered by rocks, wetlands, water, and ice and is the world’s biggest rainforest. It consists of a great variety of trees and yellow cheddar, spruce and hemlock serves as forest canopies. The forest floor is also carpeted by ferns and moss and the ground grows an evergreen vegetation.
It is an abundant forest that can sustain a number of individuals. The said national forest creates good opportunity in isolating carbon than any other type of forest on Earth. Protecting the area would have a positive impact on the people, places, and animals who need to lead a more natural way of living.
Theodore Roosevelt established the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve during the presidential proclamation on August 20, 1902. 5 years later on September 10, 1907 and with another proclamation, Tongass National Forest was created. A year later on July 1, 1908, the two jungles were connected and the combined forest surrounded the majority of Southeast Alaska.
During the year 1935, the Central Council of the Tlingit and the Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska established to summon the federal government’s rights of the land after the creation of the Tongass National Forest. In part to assist in the Japanese rehabilitation from the second World War, the Forest service constructed long – term contracts with two pulp mills, the Ketchikan Pulp Company and the Alaska Pulp Company. It was expected that these said contracts were to last for 50 years, the main intention was for it to compliment independent saw log operations in the area.
However, these companies plotted to decrease the log prices, placing smaller logging operations out of the business. Ample supply of power from these companies would navigate more on long-term contracts. The contracts would guarantee low prices to the pulp companies which sometimes would equate to trees being given away for less.
The Tongass National Forest was incorporated in the Roadless Initiative that was passed on January 5, 2001, and it happened on the last few days of the Bill Clinton Administration. Due to this, the action prevented the building and creating of brand new roads on the areas of US national forests.
The Obama Administration accepted the clear cut logging on 381 acres of land in the last old growth forest of a Tongass National Forest, a roadless area, in July of 2009. A lawsuit indefinitely stopped the timber sales.
Judge John Sedwick from the Anchorage Federal District Court brought back the roadless rule on the areas of Tongass in March 2011.
If the forest service are planning on considering roadless management, they must comply with the given requirements provided by the Federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in doing so. The Trump Administration guided the federal officials to converse the given limitations of the tree cutting from the request of Alaska’s top elected officials in October 2019 with Senator Lisa together with Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. The Forest Service Officials said in their released statement that the new blueprint would be subject to public comment that would last for 60 days. Most of the Tongass National Forest from the roadless locations were excluded by the Trump’s Forest Service in October 2020, permitting some road construction and logging in more than 9.3 million acres of rainforest land.
Tongass National Forest Transportation and Activities
Every year, the Tongass National Forest expects more than 900,00 visitors. The most common way to get to the forest is through cruise ships which make certain stops in the area that allows people to explore. Other than that, visitors from different parts of the world can reach Tongass by plane and for those who are living nearby can take the ferries.
The Tongass National Forest offers different outdoor activities that visitors will surely enjoy such as exploring the 13.6-mile Mendenhall Glacier and paddling along the 32-mile Cross Admiralty Canoe Route. These two activities are a sure way to enjoy the peaceful scenery of the trail and experience firsthand the aquatic life residing in the site.
Want to see some bears? Head on the Prince of Wales Island. Traveling by boat, you will be dropped off and be allowed to take a walk to Anan Wildlife Observatory where you’ll get a viewing area of the black and brown bears.
Other than bears, the forest also offers the best cold water fishing experience in the whole word. This is the chance to see fishes as big as trophies! For size reference, these are the very kind of fishes that can clog up rivers due to their insane sizes.
If you are up for a more relaxing activity, you can take the train that will lead you to the most stunning corners of the Tongass National Forest. Be prepared to have your breath taken away by the beauty of Alaska and enjoy a drink from the Alaskan Brewing Company.
One of the most popular tourist activities is whale watching. You can approach tours in the area that provide charter boats that will bring you along the Alaska Marine Highway, giving you a first-class front seat to see the whales in their habitat.