Clear cut logging the Tongass’ old-growth trees affects fish, wildlife and the landscape on many levels, and that is why the Roadless Rule should stay in place on the Tongass.
In less than 10 days the U.S. Forest Service could release its final decision and fully repeal the Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest. Speak up today and tell federal decision makers that you want the Roadless Rule intact on the Tongass.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Austin Williams, Trout Unlimited, (907) 227-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest Service poised to repeal roadless areas protections on the Tongass National Forest
JUNEAU, AK — A final environmental impact statement released today indicates the Forest Service plans to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule despite overwhelming public comment in support of the rule and its long-standing protections for fish and wildlife.
If finalized, the rule would repeal conservation measures for more than 9 million acres of the forest, making currently protected lands available for expanded industrial clear-cut logging of old growth trees and construction of expensive and highly subsidized logging roads.
“This is the wrong call for the Tongass,” said Austin Williams, Alaska Director of Law and Policy for Trout Unlimited. “It’s clear the State of Alaska, the old-growth clear-cut logging industry, and others behind this short-sighted new rule want a return to the days of reckless clear-cut logging that sacrifices our fish, wildlife and forests without regard for the costs to Southeast Alaska’s fishing and tourism economy, subsistence users, recreationists, or the long-term health of the region. It’s far past time we recognize fish, wildlife, tourism, subsistence, and recreation are the most valuable uses for the Tongass.”
The Tongass produces more salmon than all other national forests combined, and the fishing and tourism industry supported by the intact forest account for more than 26 percent of local jobs in the region. Science shows clear-cut logging pollutes streams, and harms salmon and deer populations.
Every single project (more than 80 in total) proposed in a roadless area in Alaska has been granted an exemption and allowed to move forward, typically within a matter of weeks. These projects include mining projects, energy and utility projects, transportation roads, and community infrastructure development.
“We should conserve our remaining roadless areas instead of rolling back the protections for fish and wildlife that make businesses like mine possible,” said Keegan McCarthy, owner of Coastal Alaska Adventures and Custom Alaska Cruises. “Our livelihoods and the future of our families depend on this forest. Sacrificing more of the Tongass to expanded and unsustainable clear-cut logging ignores the economic and social realities of today, and threatens to destroy thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses just like mine.”
A statewide 2019 poll commissioned by Trout Unlimited found a majority of likely voters in Alaska opposed efforts to repeal the Roadless Rule and strongly supported efforts to protect salmon, the salmon industry, and high-value salmon streams in the Tongass such as those included in the Tongass 77. 96 percent of all public comments submitted to the Forest Service supported keeping the Roadless Rule.
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. Learn more about our work to conserve key areas of the Tongass National Forest at www.americansalmonforest.org
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The thing that these three major watersheds have in common is that they are transboundary watersheds, meaning their headwaters begin in British Columbia in Canada, and they flow into the Pacific Ocean in Alaska. Currently, B.C. is in the midst of a mining boom. There are now 15 large-scale mines in various stages of exploration, development and operation in watersheds that flow from Canada into the U.S.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives took steps to protect fish and wildlife in the Tongass by working to stop federal subsidies for road-building for timber sales.
Members of the House Interior Appropriations committee recognize that timber sales are costly to taxpayers in the Tongass - to the tune of hundreds of millions lost in recent years. If enacted into law, the provision could save taxpayers money while safeguarding habitat for fish and wildlife.
Representative Newhouse (R-WA) introduced an amendment to strip various provisions, including the Tongass language. Representatives McCollum (D-MN) and Quigley (D-IL) gave strong rebuttals before the amendment failed on a party line vote.
Thank you to Reps. Quigley, McCollum, Blumenauer and Gallego for watching out for Alaskans and Americans, and hunters and anglers, rather than the timber industry!
Here's a bit of what Rep. Quigley had to say (or, you may watch by clicking the video below):