The U.S Forest Service is conducting a five-year review of the 2008 Tongass National Forest management plan. A big part of that process involves public meetings throughout the Tongass to gather feedback and input.
A meeting in Craig is set for Wednesday evening. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Craig Tribal Association Hall. In Ketchikan, a public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Forest Planner Sue Jennings said the five-year review was written into the plan when it was drafted, and public input is an important element to the process. At each meeting, Forest Service officials start with an introductory presentation about the plan, and then open up the meeting for comments and questions.
She compared the forest plan to a municipal planning and zoning document.
“It’d be the same as a zoning map for the City of Ketchikan, where some areas are industrial and some areas are residential and some areas are business,” she said. “It’s the same kind of thing with the Tongass National Forest. Some areas we have timber production and some areas are wilderness, where we have no improvements at all. It’s the range of what can be done on the national forest, much like a zoning map.”
Meetings already have taken place in Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka. Jennings said that comments so far related to timber, subsistence, access and travel.
“And interestingly enough, hydroelectric projects,” she said. “That’s one of our big comments so far.”
Jennings said she hopes for a big crowd at each meeting,”and we have cookies, so it will be fun.”
The final public meeting for the review will take place Feb. 28 in Juneau .
For more information and to comment online, go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/home/?cid=stelprdb5367364