“Big Thorne” logging threatens the Alexander Archipelago wolf. Greenpeace defends.
by Larry Edwards
Based on the impacts to wolf and deer habitat and populations ..., Prince of Wales Island, including the Big Thorne project area, is at a tipping point with regard to a viable predator-prey dynamic between wolves and deer. The wolf populations on Prince Wales have been declining precipitously, and wolves are already facing the possibility of extinction on Prince of Wales Island. Big Thorne logging, if it goes forward, will remove the most important remaining deer winter habitat in many of the affected watersheds, which will further reduce the abundance of deer in the project area (especially following severe winters), perhaps for decades to come. As a result, the predator-prey relationship between wolves and deer on Prince of Wales is likely to collapse. ... As I described above, it is not enough to maintain a sufficient deer population for wolves because hunters rely on those deer as well, and they can be expected to kill wolves legally or illegally to protect that resource. The situation is further compounded by the extensive road network already in existence, as well as the new roads into previously remote areas approved under the Big Thorne decision. This road system greatly facilitates human access and eliminates refuge for wolves.Our administrative appeal also addresses impacts of Big Thorne's roading and logging to streams and fish (particularly salmon) and to other wildlife species including bear, goshawks and flying squirrels. We also show that the economic justifications for the project fail under scrutiny. Accompanying the appeal are two other declarations by experts on the aquatic and economic issues. Our appeal requests that the decision ... be reversed and that the project be cancelled in its entirety because of multiple failures to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Forest Management Act (NFMA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), Tongass Timber Reform Act (TTRA), Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and various regulations and policies implementing these statutes. Stay tuned. (See the follow-up story.) Our co-appellants are: Cascadia Wildlands, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Center for Biological Diversity and Tongass Conservation Society. [ Note: The links in this article allow you to read annotated versions of documents, stored on DocumentCloud. The original, unannoted versions can be downloaded from there as well, from a link at the bottom of the right-hand panel there. ] Big Thorn