Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, nearly 17 million acres, includes a significant portion of the world’s last remaining temperate rainforest. This spectacular region supports abundant wildlife, including such priority bird species as the Marbled Murrelet. Audubon’s goal is to conserve intact, ecologically significant watersheds in the Tongass and support the transition of forest management from the harvest of old-growth trees to more diversified uses. Audubon Alaska’s collaborative approach includes all key stakeholders: conservation groups, the timber industry, commercial fishing groups, tourism officials, Alaska’s Native people, southeastern Alaska communities, the U.S. Forest Service, and Alaska Fish and Game. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the state program has used input from dozens of scientists to take a watershed-based approach to conservation. Audubon has analyzed, mapped, and described the Tongass’s coastal forests to identify areas of greatest ecological value. This will help mitigate threats from legislation, including the recently passed omnibus defense bill, that will make a substantial portion of the last remaining large-tree old-growth forest vulnerable to timber cutting. Audubon’s approach protects biodiversity while supporting sustainable economic development.
Our Largest National Forest Is at Risk
The Roadless Rule protects our nation’s forests from clear-cut logging and roadbuilding. In the Tongass National Forest these roadless areas provide nesting trees for birds like the Queen Charlotte Goshawk and Red-breasted Sapsucker. They protect a network of salmon-rich rivers and streams that are an important resource for local communities. Large old-growth trees also play a vital role in mitigating climate change. They breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which helps counter greenhouse gas emissions and shrinks our carbon footprint. Although 96% of the public support keeping the Roadless Rule in the Tongass, the government is working to remove this protection, putting people, birds, and the planet at risk. Residents of Southeast Alaska are speaking out to protect this special place.