Many scientists agree the key to maintaining the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Tongass National Forest is to protect the region’s high-value salmon-producing watersheds – entire drainages that stretch from ridge top to ridge top and from river headwaters to river mouths.
Scientific Case for Salmon Conservation at the Watershed Scale (summary, pdf)
Salmon Watershed Research Searchable Bibliography (88 pages, pdf)
Biogeographic provinces reflect natural variability in climate, physiography, and species distributions throughout the islands and mainland of Southeast Alaska.
14 of the 22 biogeographic provinces in the Tongass are represented in the list of 77 high-value watersheds. Based on their outstanding fish habitat, the highest and best use for these 77 watersheds should be for the production of salmon and trout.
Representing the “best of the best” in each of 14 biogeographic provinces, the Tongass 77 watersheds are spread out across a wide swath of the Tongass National Forest.
The Tongass 77 Priority Salmon Watersheds (pdf)
The Tongass 77 – A Closer Look (23 pages, pdf)
At present, no-harvest buffers of 100 feet minimum are required on all larger Tongass anadromous streams (Class I and II). Additionally, about 35 percent of salmon and trout habitat is protected at the watershed scale on about 40 percent of the land base of the Tongass National Forest. At just over 1.9 million acres combined, the 77 high-value salmon and trout watersheds represent about 12 percent of the Tongass land base, but include about 23 percent of the total salmon and trout habitat of the Tongass National Forest.
A study commissioned by Trout Unlimited and released in 2011 finds that Southeast Alaska’s healthy salmon and trout populations contributed nearly $1 billion to the regional economy and accounted for close to 11 percent of regional jobs in 2007.
Southeast Alaska Salmon and Trout: A $1 Billion Economic Engine (pdf)
Tongass Economic Study – full report (26 pages, pdf)
According to a recent poll by The Nature Conservancy, 96 percent of Alaskans surveyed in 2011 said salmon are essential to their way of life, and 97 percent said salmon are an important part of the Alaskan economy. Even in tough economic times, 89 percent of respondents said it is important to maintain funding for salmon conservation.
Broad Support For Salmon: The Nature Conservancy Poll (link)