The Tongass Transition Framework: A New Path Forward?

This report examines whether the Tongass Transition Framework, which proposed a “new path forward,” is working to enhance economic opportunities in southeast Alaska while conserving the National Forest.

  • The Tongass National Forest has made no meaningful shift in its budget and staff allocations since announcing the Transition Framework in 2010.
  • The Tongass National Forest continues to invest disproportionately (34-45% of its budget) in a timber industry that provides relatively few jobs (1% private employment) while neglecting more economically important industries to the region such as tourism and fishing (24%).
  • The Tongass National Forest remains predominantly focused on old growth harvests (87% of proposed sales) at a significant cost to U.S. taxpayers (more than $100 million).

scenic vista of Tongass National Forest
In 2010 the Forest Service announced a new direction for the Tongass National Forest. Called the “Transition Framework,” the Forest Service proposed a “new path forward in the region that enhances economic opportunities to communities while conserving the Tongass National Forest.”

Four years since this commitment, it is fair to ask if a transition is in fact occurring, and whether it is improving economic opportunities for communities in southeast Alaska. To understand if change is taking place, this report examines the Tongass National Forest budget and staffing, as well as the economy of southeast Alaska and proposed timber sales.

We worked with Ross Gorte, Ph.D., to produce the report. Gorte, a retired Senior Policy Analyst at the Congressional Research Service, is now an Affiliate Research Professor at the University of New Hampshire.