Tongass Advisory Committee Media Release – Tongass Advisory Committee Establishes a Vision for Forest Management in Southeast Alaska
For Immediate Release: August 12, 2014
Sent on behalf of the Tongass Advisory Committee
Tongass Advisory Committee Establishes a Vision for Forest Management in Southeast Alaska
KETCHIKAN, Alaska – The Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) held its first meeting last week to kick off the process of developing recommendations on forest management on the Tongass with an emphasis on young-growth management. Over the course of three days, the group discussed operating procedures and goals for the process; developed a vision; nominated co-chairs; and identified information needs and activities to assist with future deliberations. Throughout the discussions, the members worked to acknowledge the importance of the diverse values and interests represented within the group, and laid a foundation for a productive and collaborative tone as they discuss important issues facing the Tongass National Forest.
Wayne Benner of Thorne Bay, Alaska and Lynn Jungwirth of Hayfork, California were nominated as co-chairs for the Committee. Both were recognized for their experience and community focus – Wayne offers a strong local perspective as city administrator for Thorne Bay since 2010 and a member of the Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council. Lynn brings over 20 years of experience with community forestry and collaborative approaches to natural resource management throughout the nation. With experience from other regions and forests, Lynn brings a valuable perspective that scales beyond the region. The Committee recognized the value of the complementary experiences that the co-chairs offer on the local and national levels.
The members expressed a strong commitment to supporting Southeast Alaska communities through their recommendations. They developed a vision in which “Southeast Alaska is comprised of prosperous, resilient communities that have the opportunity to predictably use and benefit from the diversity of forest resources to achieve the social, economic, and ecological health of the region for current and future generations.” Co-chair Benner echoed this vision, “I am very impressed that 15 people can come to consensus and put community at the top of the list. That is the key that holds Southeast together.”
The Advisory Committee concluded the meeting equally excited about the process and aware of the challenge of the task at hand. The diversity of members, their collective experience, and their differing viewpoints offer great potential to develop recommendations for lasting solutions for forest management and young-growth timber in Southeast Alaska. Co-chair Jungwirth reflected, “I am really impressed by the amount of knowledge, experience, and good-will at the table, and am very optimistic about the ability to move forward. At the same time, I am overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. We have the responsibility to help create no losers through the solution – that includes local and national interests.” The members are aware of the value of a timely response in order to meet the deadline for incorporating their recommendations into the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment.
The Committee encourages interested members of the public to attend future meetings, and bring any new ideas and/or concerns before the TAC through the public comment process. The next meeting is scheduled for September 10-12, 2014 in Juneau, Alaska. For more information about the Tongass Advisory Committee, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/R10/Tongass/TAC.