The U.S. Forest Service has just announced their plan to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the national Roadless Rule.
The Roadless Rule has conserved key areas of the Tongass from industrial old-growth logging and supported habitat for salmon, trout and steelhead, provided recreational access for anglers, and advanced southeast Alaska’s $2 billion fishing and tourism industries. The proposed repeal of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass is a direct result of political and special interest decision-making aimed at reviving an outdated clear-cut logging industry that threatens key fish and wildlife resources in southeast Alaska. For a full refresher on the Roadless Rule and why it’s important to Southeast, click here.
Tell the U.S. Forest Service that you want to see conservation measures remain in place for key-fish producing areas of the Tongass.
While we have a simple, pre-written comment available for you online, personalized comments can be more effective.
- “Hello, my name is ___________ and I live in ____________.”
- “I support keeping the Roadless Rule on the Tongass.”
- Describe where you use the Tongass and why those places are so special.
- Explain how you use the Tongass, such as for recreational fishing, commercial use, subsistence, hunting, camping, hiking, boating, primitive recreation, semi-primitive recreation, etc.
- Please specifically mention the need to conserve key fish-producing areas of the forest, such as the Tongass 77. For example: “Protecting key wildlife areas and salmon watersheds such as the Tongass 77 is important for our economy and way of life in Southeast Alaska.”
- Optional: add additional specific information regarding the importance of intact fish and wildlife habitat, the impacts of logging or roads, or the importance of the Roadless Rule to show why you support protecting roadless areas on the Tongass.
Some additional detail that may be helpful:
The Existing Roadless Rule
- The Roadless Rule is working. It now conserves 58 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat, recreation areas, drinking- water resources and other lakes, rivers and streams across the National Forest system, which in turn protects our salmon and our tourism and recreation economy. The Rule protects more than 9 million acres on the Tongass, preventing the expansion of clear-cut logging of old-growth timber.
- The Roadless Rule has already been through the public process. More than 1.6 million people commented during the rulemaking process in 2001, and 95% of them supported strong protections for roadless areas. Public comments in 2018 and 2019 have also overwhelmingly supported retaining the rule in Alaska.
- The Roadless Rule struck the right balance by allowing energy, infrastructure and other development activities. All 58 applications for development activities in Tongass Roadless Areas, mainly associated with mineral exploration and hydropower development, have been granted. Approval generally takes just 1-3 weeks.
- Tongass is a globally important carbon sink. The Tongass stores 8% of all the carbon stored in America’s forests and, in doing so, helps reduce the impacts of climate change.
- The Roadless Rule protects fish and wildlife. The Tongass produces more salmon than all other National Forests, combined. Roadless areas and places like the Tongass 77 contain highly-productive fish habitat that is critical to local fishing and tourism industries, which combine to contribute more than $2 billion in economic activity and roughly 26% of jobs in the region, annually.
- We don’t need more roads. The Tongass National Forest already has more than 5,000 miles of permanent logging roads transecting its landscape to access timber.
- Road construction on the Tongass is expensive. American taxpayers have spent more than $600 million building logging roads on the Tongass over the past 20 years. According to the Taxpayers for Common Sense, USFS could end up losing more than $180 million in the Tongass over the next four years.
- We can’t take care of the existing Tongass roads. Congressional sources pin the Tongass road maintenance backlog at roughly $68 million. The Forest Service estimates it has a backlog of more than $100 million in watershed restoration needs.
- Roads are bad for fish. The Forest Service has surveyed 3,687 places where roads cross fish streams on the Tongass (culverts and bridges) and found 33% of them fail to meet standards to allow fish migration. That means there are more than 1,200 places on the Tongass where roads don’t allow fish to migrate past at all life stages! We applaud the Forest Service’s on-going efforts to fix these problems, but we never should have gotten here in the first place and we question the logic behind adding to the problem.