Forest Service Cancels Controversial Old-Growth Tongass Timber Sale


In October 2015, on behalf of five environmental organizations, Crag won a case against the U.S. Forest Service’s authorization of a timber sale on Mitkof Island in Tongass National Forest, which would have destroyed the habitat of the native Alexander Archipelago Wolves.

Crag brought suit against the Forest Service in May to stop the 35-million-board-foot Mitkof Island Project timber sale. Mitkof Island is located in the center of the Tongass National Forest, near the communities of Petersburg and Kupreanof, and is home to wolves, many species of bear, deer, and other animals. 

In March 2015, the USFS initially authorized the clear-cutting and sale of the old-growth forest after a hasty environmental review. The faulty environmental review conducted by the USFS stated the Mitkof Island timber sale had “no significant impact” on the environment. Crag represented Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance to successfully challenge the USFS’s quick decision to overlook the destructive ecological impacts of this project.

“The Forest Service must take a hard look at the environmental consequences of its actions, especially with respect to species like the deer and the goshawk that depend on old-growth forests. In a rush to approve yet another major old-growth timber sale, the Tongass National Forest brushed aside these environmental concerns and fast-tracked the project.”

– Crag Staff Attorney, Oliver Stiefel

In October 2015, after only months of litigation, Crag’s clients were successful in cancelling the project altogether. The formal withdrawal notice provided a lot of hope to clients and supporters that destructive old-growth timber sales like the Mitkof project will soon be a thing of the past. This was also a victory for the locals who relied upon the island for a variety of uses, including hunting, fishing, recreation, and wildlife viewing. Throughout the past decade, Crag has dedicated our legal services to many clients fighting for the Tongass and will continue to protect this vital ecological resource.

“While planning for this sale, the Forest Service tried to downplay and hide from the public the full scope of the damage this logging would cause. The agency initially told the public this was a ‘small sale’ but the project ballooned into a major timber sale. Old-growth logging needs to end now.”

-Randi Spivak, the Center for Biological Diversity


Read documents from this case on the Forest Service’s website

Learn about Crag’s work protecting forests and wildlife in the Tongass.  

Our Clients

Crag represented Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance in this case on Mitkof Island in Southeast Alaska.

Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community’s mission is to protect the biological integrity of Southeast Alaska forests, freshwater, and ocean systems.

Cascadia Wildlands is a nonprofit conservation organization with a mission to defend and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit membership organization known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, creative media and grassroots activism. 

Greenpeace uses non-violent creative action to pave the way towards a greener, more peaceful world, and to confront the systems that threaten our environment.

Alaska Wildlife Alliance protects Alaska’s wildlife through citizen mobilization, advocacy, and education.

Sign up for our email list | Join Us >>