Service's own estimate over 70 percent of the salmon harvested in Southeast Alaska originated from within the Tongass. The way the Forest Service ultimately decides to manage the Tongass will impact commercial fisheries from Metlakatla to Yakutat.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has done a fine job managing commercial salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska.
There were days last year I had a fish on every hook trolling for salmon.
The salmon runs have been consistently strong and dock prices are on the upswing. In order to maintain healthy salmon runs the Forest Service needs to do their part to permanently protect primary salmon producing watersheds throughout Southeast Alaska.
Many of the Coho and Chinook salmon I catch trolling come from watersheds identified by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as Primary Fish Producers.
Unfortunately a number of these streams and rivers are slated for road construction and logging in several of the alternatives in the draft Tongass Forest Plan, including the Proposed Action. Some of the threatened watersheds include Ushk Bay Creek, Wasta Creek, Castle River, Navy Creek and Port Camden Creek.
I strongly believe these areas should be permanently protected along with all other primary salmon-producing watersheds Fish and Game has identified.
Salmon prices are finally climbing.
Now is not the time for the Forest Service to decimate critical salmon habitat by logging and building expensive roads in primary salmon-producing watersheds.
I would like the Forest Service to reprioritize their spending in the Tongass and make restoring, protecting and enhancing salmon habitat a top priority.
I urge commercial fishermen throughout Southeast Alaska to comment on the Forest Plan before the April 30, 2007 deadline.