The Roadless Rule is a 2001 federal rule that protects the last wild lands in our national forest system from road-building, mass resource extraction, and timber harvest. It was created to honor our public lands and to protect clean water, productive wildlife habitat, and vast intact ecosystems.
So what does the Roadless Rule actually do? On the Tongass, the Roadless Rule conserves over 9 million acres of public lands that support our fishing and visitor industries, subsistence harvest activities, and recreation areas. It prevents new road construction to access the last vestiges of old-growth forest for industrial scale clear-cut logging, while providing exceptions for important community development initiatives such as hydro-power projects and transportation corridors. The Roadless Rule protects the integrity of key salmon-producing watersheds that we depend on for our livelihoods and nourishment. It protects intact old growth forest that Sitka black-tailed deer depend on for winter habitat. In turn, Southeast Alaskans depend on the deer for food during the winter. The old-growth of the Tongass is a huge carbon sink, and the Roadless Rule keeps that carbon out of the atmosphere. By protecting the old-growth forests of the Tongass, the Roadless Rule sustains our economies and our way-of-life.
The State of Alaska is trying to roll back all of this progress and exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule. Our Congressional Delegation and Governor are ignoring the wishes of the people they represent and are pushing hard for a full exemption. Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule would endanger the last remaining areas of intact old growth forest and key watersheds that currently support our communities, cultures, and economy.
Your voice counts! We are in the final public comment writing stage — this is your last chance to tell the Forest Service why you care about protecting Roadless areas on the Tongass. Are you from Southeast Alaska? Submit a comment by December 17 with our online writing tool!