While Tongass wild salmon and trout are currently healthy and abundant, there are a variety of threats that could harm the future productivity of these fish. These threats include several initiatives that would privatize large swathes of the Tongass for development and resource extraction, as well as dozens of hydroelectric dam proposals and new mining activity. Climate change impacts and funding cuts for research programs that guide conservation and restoration efforts are also threats.
The troubling history of the Pacific Northwest and California, where salmon and trout runs have disappeared or face serious declines, foreshadow the types of problems that could be repeated in Southeast Alaska unless government agencies, lawmakers and the public act to make fish habitat conservation and restoration top priorities. In the Tongass, the opportunity still exists to ensure salmon and trout, and the people who depend on them, enjoy a healthier and more stable future than their Pacific Northwest and California kin.