The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

For the first time in more than two decades, the U.S. Forest Service is revising the official forest plan that guides land management on the Tongass National Forest, and the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on those revisions.

The agency is starting a multi-year process to adapt to significant changes in Southeast Alaska using the best science and Indigenous Knowledge available and applicable, 25 years’ worth of best practices, and the lessons learned from prior community outreach, tribal consultations, and public feedback.

Southeast Alaska has changed tremendously around its economy, tourism, resource extraction, climate, population, leading industries, natural resources, and increased demand for recreation, conservation, and restoration. These are important benefits to the public managed by the forest plan.

“This is an opportunity for the Forest Service to collaborate with tribes, corporations, communities, partners, and the public to ensure our future management meets the needs and values of the diverse publics we serve,” said Tongass Forest Supervisor Frank Sherman. “Meaningful dialogue throughout this lengthy process is vital to meeting that goal.”

To ensure the widest range of community voices are heard and diverse economic interests are represented, the agency signed agreements with Spruce Root, Inc., and the Juneau Economic Development Council to help with the public engagement process.

That engagement will include a series of educational webinars, public workshops in communities across Southeast Alaska and online, consultation with Alaska Native Tribes, direct engagement with partners and industry leaders, and more.

The Forest Service will use information gathered to produce a draft assessment for public review and comment by January 2025.

For more information on the process, details on upcoming public engagements or to sign up for the email distribution list, please visit the plan revision website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd1105492 or email the planning team at sm.fs.tnfrevision@usda.gov.

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