TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST

Submit a comment to preserve the Roadless Rule in the Tongass!

Photo credit: Richard Spener

WHY TO LOVE THIS PLACE

At approximately 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is America’s largest national forest, encompassing the majority of the Alaska Panhandle in Southeast Alaska. Rising from the deep, rich waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska is a land of ancient forests, mountains and glaciers with bountiful, diverse and unique wildlife.

LOCATION

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DIVERSE WILDLIFE

The Tongass is home to humpback and orca whales, otters, beavers, Alexander Archipelago wolves and some of the largest, densest concentrations of brown bears and bald eagles found on the planet.

TONGASS WATERS

The many Tongass glaciers that can be seen today are remnants of the last ice age during the Pleistocene Epoch. The Tongass is also home to five species of salmon: king, red, silver, chum and pink.

GATEWAY TO ALASKA

The Tongass is the place to visit! Often referred to as the “Inside Passage” or the gateway to Alaska, commercial fishing, tourism and recreation are the fastest growing job sectors in Southeast Alaska.

PUBLIC LAND

At approximately 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is America’s largest national forest. There are 19 designated wilderness areas within the Tongass,  more than in any other national forest.

CARBON STOREHOUSE

The Tongass is a buffer against climate change, absorbing around eight percent of the nation’s annual global warming pollution and storing an estimated 10-12 percent of all carbon in our national forests.

THE FIGHT TO PROTECT THE TONGASS FROM OLD-GROWTH CLEARCUTS

The Tongass National Forest, America's largest national forest, continues to be threatened by new congressional attempts to clear-cut rare and valuable old-growth trees. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service has started a planning process to kick-start the largest old-growth logging project in the U.S. in recent history, and has begun a process that could exempt the Tongass from the federal Roadless Rule.

PEOPLE AND THE TONGASS

Alaska Natives have continuously inhabited Southeast Alaska and the Tongass for thousands of years, relying on the bounty of salmon, deer and moose for food. The first nations include the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian, and the forest itself is named for the Tlingit people who inhabited the southernmost areas of Southeast Alaska near what is now the city of Ketchikan. Dependence on the land is still a way of life here, a cultural tradition as well as a necessity, made possible by the abundance of fish and wildlife in the region.

Today, the Tongass is home to approximately 70,000 people spread among 32 communities, including approximately 32,000 in the state capital of Juneau. The region is often referred to as the “Inside Passage” or the gateway to Alaska, and is defined by its primary industries with commercial fishing, tourism and recreation jobs among the fastest growing job sectors in Southeast Alaska. These industries pump approximately $1 billion apiece into Southeast Alaska’s economy annually.

Photo credit: Daniel Dietrich/DanielDietrichPhotography.com

FEATURED ANIMAL: BROWN BEAR

Average life span: 25 years in the wild

Height (four legs): 3.5 feet (Alaska Kodiak up to 5 feet)

Height (two legs): 6-7 feet (Alaska Kodiak up to 10 feet)

Weight: 300-850 lbs. males, 200-450 lbs. females; Alaska Kodiak bears can weigh more than 1,000 lbs.

Brown Bear versus Grizzly Bear: So which term is correct? The slightly confusing answer is: all grizzlies are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzlies. Even though grizzlies are considered to be a subspecies of brown bear, the difference between a grizzly bear and a brown bear is pretty arbitrary. In North America, brown bears are often considered to be bears with access to coastal food resources like salmon. Grizzly bears live further inland and typically do not have access to such food resources.

Product of Alaska: Brown bears are more numerous in the state of Alaska than anywhere else in America. There are an estimated 30,000 bears there, about 95% of the entire population in the United States. Kootznoowoo Wilderness, located on Admiralty Island in the Tongass National Forest, gets its name from the indigenous people of southeast Alaska, the Tlingit. Kootznoowoo means “Bear Fort” or “Fortress of the Bears,” and its forests contain the highest concentration of brown bears in the world.

Photo Credit: USFS