Statement: Tongass National Forest’s natural treasures are imperiled by Department of Agriculture’s proposal to opening area to logging

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed that the Tongass National Forest in Alaska be exempted from long-standing regulations intended to protect against logging and development. The Department’s preferred plan would remove all 9.2 million acres currently protected under the Roadless Rule, including 165,000 acres of old-growth forest. Beginning this week, the USDA Forest Service has opened a 60-day public comment period on the carve out.

Enacted in 2001, the “Roadless Rule,” which was put in place to protect against this type of industry activity, banned road construction and timber harvesting in 58.5 million acres of national forest across the country.

Environment America Senior Conservation Program Director Steve Blackledge issued the following statement:

“Bypassing the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest would have devastating consequences.  Widely known as the ‘crown jewel’ of our national forest system, the Tongass contains some of the last surviving old-growth temperate rainforest on the continent and is home to rare wildlife – many of which are endangered.

“The Roadless Rule has been in place for nearly two decades to protect forests precisely like the Tongass. Permitting logging in this ancient forest would not only have a ruinous impact on biodiversity and wildlife habitats but would also greatly diminish its role in mitigating climate change. 

“The timber industry is most likely thrilled, but some places are simply too important to destroy, and the Tongass is most certainly one of them. We call on anyone who values nature to register their opposition to opening the Tongass; they can do so during the comment period.” 

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Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.