DENVER – The U.S. Forest Service’s decision to reinstate Roadless Rule protections for 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest will promote biodiversity, safeguard water supplies, increase natural carbon sequestration, and ensure that the rural economies of Southeast Alaska thrive for future generations. The action reverses a Trump Administration decision that opened up nearly half of the Tongass to development. The Tongass is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.
“The Tongass encompasses significant Indigenous sites, important wildlife habitat, endless outdoor recreation opportunities, and critical commercial fisheries. In addition, it plays a vital role in safeguarding clean drinking water and storing carbon,” said Abby Tinsley, vice president for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud the Biden Administration for listening to the diverse coalition of Indigenous and local leaders, commercial fishermen, outdoor recreationists, and conservationists who spoke up demanding that Roadless Rule protections be reinstated for this national treasure.”
“This long-awaited decision by the Biden administration will protect over 9 million acres of Tongass National Forest Land for years to come,” said Meredith Trainor, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “Hundreds of thousands of Alaskans and Americans wrote, lobbied, rallied, and petitioned for the National Roadless Rule to stay in place on the Tongass, and thanks to the Biden administration and leadership from Southeast Alaska’s Tribal communities, we have finally succeeded. Today’s win is the work of hundreds and thousands of hands and voices, all lifted up to protect this most precious place that we love — the Tongass National Forest.”
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 people visit 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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