The Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest, stretches 500 miles along the southeast panhandle.
And it's part of one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries.
"The economy has really transitioned to this replenishable, healthy fishery," said Jesse Remund.
Remund fishes with his family off the southern tip of Baranof Island. He said the region has moved beyond timber. In fact, he doesn't know anyone who works in logging anymore.
His family fishes black cod and halibut and Coho salmon.
Remund, in Washington D.C. this week, met with Democratic Congressional staffs to urge them to upgrade the protective status of some 1.9 million acres in the Tongass.
"We would like to see these 77 watersheds protected as a start, it's just under two million acres, so we're not trying to cut off any possibility for all development," he said Tuesday morning.
The advocacy group Trout Unlimited organized the trip. It hopes Congress will officially designate the 77 watersheds, which are scattered throughout the forest, from north of Yakutat to south of Ketchikan, as Land Use Designation Two (LUD-2) Unlike wilderness status, LUD-2 allows some limited development.
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