Beginning of the process of restoring important protection for part of the largest national forest in the United States
JUNEAU, Alaska – Today, the Biden administration is taking the first steps to re-establish the roadless rule for the Tongass National Forest. In 2020, the Trump administration lifted road restrictions on more than 9 million acres of Southeast Alaska’s 17 million acre Tongass National Forest, areas previously determined by the US Forest Service as being essential for protection. With the removal of this protection, these hectares of hinterland forest have been opened up to activities such as logging.
“Protecting Tongass and other old growth forests and road-free areas in Southeast Alaska is key to tackling climate change,” said Marshall Johnson, Acting Conservation Officer at National Audubon Society. “The roadless rule ensures the protection of a climate resilient forest ecosystem, which will continue to be important to birds, fish, people and local ways of life in the future. “
On November 23, the USDA will begin a 60-day public comment period on its decision to reinstate the highways rule over the Tongass. Tongass National Forest is an island archipelago home to endemic birds, mammals and plants, including the Pacific marten, the Alexander Archipelago wolf, Northern Goshawk and Prince of Wales grouse.
“This action, combined with the administration’s global commitments to end ancient logging and USDA’s investment in sustainable forest management in the region, make Tongass a future where we value trees. up and healthy communities, ”said Audubon Alaska Executive Director Nathalie Dawson.
The national rule of conservation of areas without roads, first adopted at the end of the Clinton administration in 2001, has garnered more public support than any other federal rule in the history of our nation. During the 2019 public comment period to end Roadless Rule protections, 96% of commentators were in favor of maintaining Roadless Rule protections for Tongass.
“Americans across the country have always supported protecting Tongass as our largest untouched coastal temperate rainforest in the country. This forest is our nation’s largest natural climate solution, containing nearly half of the total carbon stored by all of the United States’ national forests and home to biologically diverse species not found anywhere else on the planet ” Dawson said.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works across the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and conservation on the ground. State programs, nature centers, chapters and partners give Audubon an unprecedented scale reaching millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation actions. A non-profit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
Media contact: Matt Smelser, [email protected]