Contact: Austin Williams, Trout Unlimited Alaska, (907) 227-1590; Kiel Brunner, Tulchin Research, (415) 608-2851
New statewide poll shows Alaska voters support conserving critical salmon streams, roadless areas on the Tongass National Forest
JUNEAU, AK – According to the results of a new poll commissioned by Trout Unlimited Alaska, a majority of likely voters in Alaska support the Roadless Rule, which conserves undeveloped lands in our National Forests. Overwhelmingly, voters support efforts to protect salmon, the salmon industry, and high-value salmon streams in the Tongass such as those included in the Tongass 77.
As the State of Alaska pushes to eliminate the Roadless Rule on the Tongass and the U.S. Forest Service contemplates an Alaska-specific rule, the poll shows 57 percent of Alaskans, and 60 percent in Southeast Alaskans, support keeping the Roadless Rule in place. When given the option, 79 percent of Alaskans (and the same percentage of Southeast Alaskans) prefer either keeping the Roadless Rule in place without change or making limited changes that include new protections for important fish and wildlife areas. Only 11 percent of statewide voters and 17 percent of Southeast Alaska voters prefer a full exemption from the Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest.
The Roadless Rule limits new commercial logging and construction of new logging roads, which helps sustain salmon and wildlife habitat across the region. The rule does not preclude all development activities. It allows for forest health projects, harvesting trees for personal use, transportation highways and other development activities. The Forest Service has approved all 58 applications submitted to it for projects in roadless areas, the majority of which pertain to surface exploration of potential mining and hydropower projects. Additionally, the Forest Service has a $68 million backlog of road maintenance in Alaska. (source) Yet, Alaska Governor Dunleavy continues to press the Forest Service for a full exemption from the rule.
“Alaska has the world’s largest, healthiest, and most abundant wild salmon populations, which play a critical role in providing food, jobs, and income through commercial, subsistence and recreational fishing. The results of this poll demonstrate that Alaskans support conserving high-value salmon streams like the Tongass 77 and want the Roadless Rule left in place,” said Austin Williams, Alaska law and policy director for Trout Unlimited. “Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule would be out of step with the views of 79 percent of Alaskans.”
This poll is the latest in years of findings demonstrating a consistent desire among Alaskans to conserve the state’s unique wild salmon and salmon-based industries.
Additional findings from the poll include
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy far into the future through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TU’s Tongass efforts onFacebook, and visit us online at tu.org. Learn more about our work to conserve key areas of the Tongass National Forest at www.americansalmonforest.org