The 1997 Forest Plan conservation strategy was the product of several science based interagency efforts
that began in the early 1990s. It is habitat-based and was built upon the latest concepts of the time in
conservation biology and landscape ecology. The conservation strategy was developed to meet the requirement
of the National Forest Management Act (and the 1982 implementing regulations), which called for maintaining
viable, well-distributed wildlife populations through the foreseeable future. A second purpose was to
prevent the need to list (under the Endangered Species Act) the Alexander Archipelago wolf and the northern
goshawk, which had been petitioned in 1993 and 1994 respectively. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision
to not list these species was based in part on the conservation strategy.
Development of the 1997 conservation strategy began with the efforts of an Interagency Viable Population
Committee’s (VPOP) proposals, a series of scientific panel efforts, and various responses to each effort by
the ongoing Forest Plan NEPA related efforts. The development of NEPA alternatives for the Forest Plan EIS,
which each represented various mixes of Land Use Designations (LUDs) and appropriate implementing Standards and
Guidelines, were informed and influenced by the ongoing development of the conservation strategy. Some of the
key efforts are summarized below to help provide the overall historic context, as well as, links to some of the
key documents or related products for development of the 1997 conservation strategy. Note that many of the
products also have their own bibliography or reference cited sections that may be of interest. Also provided
below is a summary of Forest Plan amendments that have made adjustments to the Old Growth Habitat LUD consistent
with the direction of the Forest Plan since 1997.
Conservation Strategy Overview - This document was developed for use in the conservation strategy
review and summarizes the development history and the basic design criteria for the strategy.
VPOP - In 1993, the interagency Viable Population Committee (VPOP) proposed a conservation strategy for
old-growth associated vertebrates on the Tongass (Suring et al. 1993). This proposal ranked species according
to the concern for their viability and well-distributed status and developed conservation strategies for the
highest concern species. The VPOP proposal, in combination with its review by the Pacific Northwest Research
Station (Kiester and Eckhardt 1994), and the VPOP response (Suring et al. 1994), formed the basis for the
application of a coarse and fine filter approach to conservation biology on the Tongass National Forest.
1997 Forest Plan Final EIS - Wildlife species viability and related topics are discussed in the Final EIS on pages 3-380
through 3-429. The Biodiversity section runs from page 3-11 through 3-39.
Appendix N - Appendix N of the 1997 Forest Plan Final EIS summarizes key components of the development of the
conservation strategy and how that information was used to finalize and strengthen the Forest Plan and the conservation
Appendix K - Appendix K outlines the criteria used to delineate small, medium and large reserves.
Forest Plan Management Prescriptions and Standards and Guidelines – Management prescriptions for the old-growth reserve
system are found in Chapter 3 of the Forest Plan on pages 3-75 through 3-81. Standards and guidelines for management of
the matrix make up an important component of the conservation strategy. These can be found in Chapter 4 of the Forest Plan.
Of note are the beach and estuary, riparian, wildlife standards and guidelines.”)
Tongass Forest Plan Implementation Clarification – These are clarification papers developed by an interagency team to
assist in the implementation of the Tongass Forest Plan Standards and Guidelines. They include clarifications to the
implementation of the conservation strategy such as the small old-growth reserve evaluation process, beach and estuary
fringe connectivity standards and guidelines, and marten and goshawk standards and guidelines.
Summary of OGR Amendments - As of September 2003, seventeen Forest Plan amendments have modified small Old Growth
Reserves. These adjustments have resulted in over 13,000 acres, including nearly 5,000 acres of productive old-growth
(POG), being added to the Old Growth Habitat LUD. See pages 5-7 of the 5 Year Review Determination and the list of
Forest Plan Amendments.
Many other relevant background studies and papers were developed subsequent to the 1997 Forest Plan. These
include 15 papers recently published in a special issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning (Volume 72), titled
“Science Contributions to the Development of a Landscape Scale Management Plan, Tongass National Forest, Alaska.”