JUNEAU — A delegation of commercial and sport fishermen and tour operators traveled to the nation's capital this last week to press Congress to enact stronger protections for salmon and trout in the country's largest national forest.
The Tongass National Forest, a 17-million-acre temperate rainforest in Southeast, is home to one of the world's largest and healthiest wild salmon fisheries. Despite its bounty as America's salmon forest, some 65-percent of salmon and trout habitat in the Tongass is not protected at the watershed scale.
The delegation asked Congress to support a legislative proposal called the Tongass 77. If enacted into law, the Tongass 77 would permanently conserve at the watershed scale some 1.9 million acres of high-value salmon and trout habitat on the Tongass National Forest and make fish and wildlife the highest management priority in these watersheds. These 77 watersheds are currently open to development activities such as logging, road building, and privatization that can harm fish.
David Clark, a Juneau seiner and owner of a commercial fishing blog who, was one of the individuals who traveled to Washington, D.C.
"I asked Congress to step up to the plate and support the Tongass 77. This would be the first significant piece of pro-salmon legislation passed in the Tongass in more than 20 years," Clark said. "It's time for people to realize the Tongass is a huge salmon producer and yet much of the best land is not managed for fish first."
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