TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST, ALASKA – “The Roadless Rule was one of the best protective measures for a climate-resilient forest ecosystem – important for birds, fish and humans, now and in the future,” said Natalie Dawson, General Manager of Audubon Alaska. “Removing these protections is myopic and irresponsible. And the whole process has been done without consulting local tribes who have relied on and managed this land from time immemorial. “
The US Forest Service today released its final rule and decision record undoing the long-standing protection of the Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, the country’s largest national forest. The decision involves significant fragmentation of the roadless areas within the Tongass and endangers the fish, birds and other wildlife that inhabit these intact remnants of the forest.
Alaskans have repeatedly spoken out against the lifting of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass, and their concerns have been confirmed by more than 1.5 million Americans who made comments during the original regulatory process. 11 tribal governments in the area petitioned the Forest Service calling for the protection of traditional areas for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples, including a new rules-setting process carried out in collaboration with the tribes in southeast Alaska.
Bald Eagle, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
Polls found that 61 percent of voters across the country oppose exempting large parts of the Tongass from the traffic rule, and 96 percent of those voters said it is important for the federal government to protect and preserve the national forests.