DENVER – Restoring protections for 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest will benefit wildlife, old-growth forests and the rural economies of Southeast Alaska. The National Wildlife Federation and its Alaska affiliate, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, praised President Biden for indicating he will “repeal or replace” the Trump administration’s exemption to the Roadless Rule and urged the President to swiftly and fully reinstate roadless protections.
“Re-establishing roadless rule protections in the Tongass will ensure that one of the world’s last old-growth forests remains intact, which in turn helps to mitigate impacts from climate change, recover wildlife, and support the rural economies that depend on this diverse ecosystem,” said Mary Greene, public lands attorney at the National Wildlife Federation. “The Tongass plays a vital role in absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and contains sacred sites of great importance to Indigenous peoples. It’s time to reverse the disastrous Roadless Rule exemption which put all of this at risk.”
“We are feeling grateful and cautiously optimistic this morning, and looking forward to the Biden administration taking the final step to put the national rule back in place on the Tongass” said Meredith Trainor, Executive Director of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, a grassroots regional nonprofit organization that has spent the last few years fighting to keep the national Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest. “The process that led to the Trump-era Roadless Rule exemption was overtly politicized and critically flawed from the start, and it is with relief and satisfaction that today we anticipate the Biden administration’s return to science-based decision-making on the Tongass. 96% of those who submitted comments during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process were in support of keeping the national Roadless Rule in place on the Tongass National Forest, and all of us in that 96% cheer the news that the Trump rule will be either repealed or replaced, and heartily encourage the administration to put this thing to bed by repealing the Trump rule once and for all.”
The Tongass National Forest is home to a remarkable diversity of wildlife, including rare Alexander Archipelago wolves, Sitka black-tailed deer, brown bears, and bald eagles. Every year more than a million visitors come to the Tongass to enjoy the old growth forest and to hunt, fish, hike and camp there. The forest supports a robust economy of tourism, commercial and sport fishing, and many other small businesses.
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