Press Room

Forest Service Proceeds with Plans to Remove Roadless Protections for Tongass National Forest

Agency ignores importance of old-growth trees for birds, fish, and local communities.

TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST, ALASKA — “Roadless areas of the Tongass protect salmon runs that feed healthy bears, Northern Goshawks, marten, and many people in Southeast Alaska,” said Natalie Dawson, Vice President and Executive Director for Audubon Alaska. “The Roadless Rule also provides the best protections for a climate resilient forest ecosystem, which will continue to be important for birds, fish, people, and local ways of life into the future.”

The U.S. Forest Service released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) today for its plans to roll back long-standing “Roadless Rule” protections for the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, the country’s largest national forest. The FEIS includes significant fragmentation of roadless areas within the Tongass, and puts birds and other wildlife that live within these intact remnants of the forest at risk.

“Intact, ancient forests, like the Tongass, are strongholds of climate resilience,” said Sarah Greenberger, interim chief conservation officer for the National Audubon Society. “They act as the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere, helping combat climate changing greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting these forests and roadless areas in Southeast Alaska is critical for the future of birds and people across not only the United States, but the entire hemisphere.”

 Alaska residents have repeatedly spoken out against the removal of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass and there is broad support across the country. More than 1.5 million Americans voiced their concerns over rolling back the Roadless Rule in the Tongass during the original rulemaking process. Eleven Tribal governments in the region submitted a petition to the Forest Service requesting the protection of traditional lands for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples.

Polling has revealed that 61 percent of voters nationwide oppose exempting large parts of the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, and 96 percent of these voters said they believe it is important for the federal government to protect and conserve national forests.

Media Contact:

Rebecca Sentner, Audubon Alaska, rebecca.sentner@audubon.org 907-276-7034

Matt Smelser, National Audubon Society, matt.smelser@audubon.org 512-739-9635

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

Since 1977, Audubon Alaska has been conserving the spectacular natural ecosystems of Alaska for people, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with an emphasis on public lands and waters. Audubon Alaska is a state office of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at ak.audubon.org.

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