Protect the Tongass: Keep Our Public Lands Public


The Tongass National Forest is our home.

The public lands of the Tongass are important for all Americans, but theyre essential for those of us who live here. This is where our families hunt, fish, gather food, and work on the land in ways that just aren't possible anywhere else in the country. The Roadless Rule protects over 9 million acres of public lands on the Tongass, areas that we rely on to feed our families and support our economic livelihoods. 

But Alaska's State Government wants to remove the Roadless Rule.

The State of Alaska, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, and the timber industry have fought the 2001 Roadless Rule since its inception. The State of Alaska has already lost multiple lawsuits regarding the Rule’s application on the Tongass.

With the Trump administration, the State saw a new opportunity to open up more land to clearcut old-growth forests. On August 30th, 2018, Alaska submitted a petition to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to create an Alaska-specific Roadless Rule. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping process kicked off a 45-day public comment period accompanied by 19 public ‘information’ meetings conducted by the Forest Service throughout Southeast Alaska communities, Anchorage, and Washington D.C., which ended on October 15th, 2018. Over 140,000 comments were submitted, with the vast majority of the comments in favor of keeping the 2001 Roadless Rule in effect on the Tongass. 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will make the final decision on the Alaska Roadless Rule. He needs to understand that Southeast Alaskans want to KEEP THE 2001 ROADLESS RULE ON THE TONGASS. A sustainable Alaska is possible. Let’s fight for it.

Your voice matters!

Click here to submit a comment to the Forest Service today.

We've created an online tool to help you draft an effective comment on the Roadless Rule. 


You can also write to your senator and Secretary Perdue below. We'll deliver your words straight to Washington, D.C.

If you want to submit your letter to your local newspaper, let us know! We can help you hone your argument and get your words published.

Showing 82 reactions

  • Joseph D'Arienzo
    commented 2018-02-06 13:49:05 -0900
    Dear Sen. Murkowski

    I urge you not to diminish protections for old growth in the Tongass. This public land has been hammered enough already. Our Old growth is vital to sustaining our fisheries and susbsistence lifestyles and ,not least of all, carbon sequestering in this time of radical climate change in the arctic and subarctic.

    Thank you
  • Jim Steffen
    commented 2018-02-06 13:27:16 -0900
    Senator Murkowski, do not proceed with removing the protections of the Tongass that are just now beginning to show progress toward restoring damaged fish habitat. Fish is a renewable resource that should not be traded for intense resource extraction.
  • Kate Boesser
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-02-06 13:04:25 -0900
    Protect the Tongass
  • Kate Boesser
    commented 2018-02-06 13:03:59 -0900
    Do not privatize public lands of the Tongass! No more clearcut logging in our forests. Save old growth habitat. Very few Alaskans see benefits of sale of our wood according to Dept. Labor statistics. Our wealth is in our forests!
  • Megan Moody
    commented 2018-02-05 15:54:52 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    My husband and I live and work in Tenakee Springs and Tenakee Inlet. The health of this inlet is what brought us to Tenakee, and the reason we plan to stay and start a family here. As a hunting guide, my husband’s work relies on wild, public lands and healthy salmon populations. I’m disappointed in SB 1481 and what it could do to the areas we love and depend on. Please work to keep land healthy and in public hands.


    Megan Moody
  • Phyllis Hackett
    commented 2018-02-05 08:19:53 -0900
    Please keep our lands public!

    I have been an active resident, an assembly member and supporter of the economy and growth of Sitka for 45 years and access to the wilderness is the main reason I have stayed. It is the main reason most young people I know choose to stay as well. Please realize this. It is critically important to our economy and overall health of our community. If you take away our untethered access to OUR forest and waterways you will help destroy our struggling economies. It IS the reason we thrive emotionally AND economically.

    Big business, be it native owned or not, and high levels of resource extraction is not the answer.

    If you are interested in conversation about my views, which are well founded, please just ask.

    Thank you for your time and all the good things you do for our beautiful and well loved state of Alaska.

    Most Sincerely,

    Phyllis Hackett
  • Wendy Stern
    commented 2018-02-04 15:41:29 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski, I urge you to support the healthy productive salmon bearing streams of Tenakee inlet. For healthy commercial and subsistence use this inlet has enormous value. It should never be privately owned. Thank you. Wendy Stern
  • Kathleen Moore
    commented 2018-02-04 15:26:32 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski, We were proud of you, when you stood up for health care. But now, we feel you are betraying the very values of health and well-being by the damage your legislation threatens to the Tongass, which is our home and the source of food and quiet. We have worked hard with many people to protect our inlet and the forests around our home. Please help keep them safe from destructive logging (clearcutting) and the damage that will come from privatizing them. They are our heritage. They are Alaska’s heritage. Please please protect them. The short-term profit is in no way worth the value of intact forests and watersheds. Please take the long view of this. Thank you, Kathleen Dean Moore
  • Molly Kemp & Nick Olmstead
    commented 2018-02-03 10:03:03 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    In the past year I’ve been grateful for some of the positions you’ve taken on social issues, and have called your office on several occasions to say thank you. However I am deeply disappointed by your attempts to privatize the public lands of the Tongass, and want to express my opposition in the strongest possible terms.

    Abundant salmon are the key to sustainability in Southeast Alaska. In the 42 years I’ve lived in the same small Chichagof Island community I’ve seen firsthand how the boom-and-bust liquidation of old growth timber is the exact opposite of a sustainable economy, and caused irreparable harm to salmon-producing watersheds. We have returned to a stable fishing economy now, and the overwhelming majority of wage earners in our small town are either commercial permit holders, deckhands, guides or connected to support industries. Of course everyone also depends on salmon for healthy food on the table.

    I am particularly concerned about the still-pristine streams of Upper Tenakee Inlet. Through my personal observation of changes in weather and precipitation patterns over the course of four decades, I am convinced that geography and terrain makes those north facing streams immensely valuable to salmon threatened by rapid climate change.

    Upper Tenakee Inlet is cold and dark. Everyone who lives here knows that. Last April there was still four feet of snow on the beach at the head of Tenakee Inlet at the same time flowers were blooming in the lower Inlet. That deep snow pack ensures adequate water in the richly productive salmon streams up the Inlet, even as temperatures rise.

    The opposite is true of formerly mighty rivers like Kadashan in the lower Inlet. That river used to be supported by snow pack all summer. That is no longer the case. Those rivers now must depend on rainfall in the summer. When the weird periods of hot dry weather we’ve seen in the last decade coincide with spawning time, their salmon are in trouble.

    Please remember your responsibility to future generations. Public lands are good for everyone.


    Molly Kemp
  • mary smith
    commented 2018-02-03 06:34:47 -0900
    dont you know when it is gone, its gone….will all the perks given you and your deep pockets protect you from reality ?
  • mary smith
    commented 2018-02-03 06:34:46 -0900
    dont you know when it is gone, its gone….will all the perks given you and your deep pockets protect you from reality ?
  • Thomas Nelson
    commented 2018-02-02 20:09:07 -0900
    Dear Senator:

    The Tongass is one of the last five remaining old growth temperate rainforests on the planet, with towering trees approaching ages up to 1000 years. As the largest National Forest in the country, the Tongass spans 17 million acres of public lands that belong to all Americans.

    There’s no doubt about it: our public lands are one of our country’s best ideas and one of our most important legacies. The Tongass National Forest is a national treasure and destination that supports huge tourism and fishing economies.

    In spite of all of this, Senator Lisa Murkowski is trying her hardest to privatize the Tongass and clearcut the last remaining old growth stands within it.

    Senator Murkowski has introduced a suite of devastating bills that would:
    Roll back the 2016 Tongass Plan Amendment and ramp up old growth clear-cut logging in our forests;
    Repeal the Roadless Rule in Alaska, opening up intact stands of important old growth habitat to clearcutting, threatening crucial salmon and wildlife habitat, and burden taxpayers with the exorbitant cost of road-building in these remote, roadless areas;
    Require the government to buy back degraded lands from corporations that clear-cut and left lands in a degraded state;
    Require the Forest Service to trade worthless gravel beneath clearcut land for pristine forests with high value timber and very high value rare-earth metal mining rights;
    Bypass the normal process of appraisal and be a major loss for taxpayers and the American public;
    Privatize thousands of acres of the Tongass National Forest.

    One thing is very clear: it’s taxpayers and local Southeast Alaskans who lose if these bills pass and our public lands are privatized. We lose access to thousands of acres of our public lands. We lose some of the last remaining old growth stands, which can never get back. And we lose our legacy, the vast tracts of public lands we want to conserve for future generations, so they can enjoy and live off of these forests, too.

    Your voice counts! Click here to write a letter to your Senator.

    I urge you not to support these bills or even let them get out of committee.
    Thomas w. Nelson
  • Robert Swanson
    commented 2018-02-02 19:40:40 -0900
    I have backpacked, camped and hiked in the Tongas National Forest. I oppose any privatization and land trades of this public property. It should not be managed for the short term gain of a few.
  • Ravenous
    @ravensitka tweeted link to this page. 2018-02-02 19:01:36 -0900
  • Charles Bingham
    commented 2018-02-02 18:46:00 -0900
    Please end old-growth logging in the Tongass, and respect the Tongass Transition Plan that focuses more on second-growth timber and habitat protection in the region.
  • Samuel McBeen McBeen
    commented 2018-02-02 12:01:13 -0900
    I am very concerned about the threat to the Tongass National Forest that your riders to the budget and sb1481 will have to our home by privatizing thousands of acres and endangering industries and individuals that depend on an intact ecosystem. My wife and I have lived in Southeast Alaska for 45 years and made our living commercial fishing and operating a fishing lodge. We still depend on an intact forest for our food, recreation and peace of mind. Tenakee residents have a long history of working to keep old growth forests healthy and these bills will have an extremely harmful effect on our inlet and way of living. I used to have more respect for your apparent interest in listening to all sides of a issue, but since the election of trump you seem to be aligning yourself more and more with the extraction oriented, greed motivated, right-wing extremists and to hell with your constituents.
  • Matt Jackson
    commented 2018-02-02 11:35:18 -0900
    I am writing to express my support the 2016 Tongass Land Management Plan as currently written. It represents years of public input, dialogue, and well reasoned-compromises, and should not be rolled back. The Tongass needs all the old-growth it has left and must transition to new-growth now. Southeast Alaskans cannot afford any more old-growth logging.

    I am also writing in opposition to S.1481. The only “improvements” to ANCSA I support would be increases in federally designated roadless wilderness areas. I oppose Section 7, Section 10 and Section 11 specifically of the S.1481 as written because they would open up more wilderness areas to development. Logging accounts for only a few dozen jobs in this region. By contrast, fishing and tourism are the largest employers, providing thousands of livelihoods across the region. Fishing and tourism both rely on an intact, wild Tongass. This is the best use of the Tongass, and to be frank, putting our tourism and fisheries industries at risk for the sake of a few dozen loggers is just plain stupid. If loggers cannot make the transition to young-growth, perhaps you could start a federal program to put them to work in commercial fishing, there is a shortage of young fishermen in this region. That would certainly be a more reasonable use of taxpayer money than expensive, harmful roads through our salmon rearing watersheds.

    I hope that the committee takes the immense value of an intact and undeveloped Tongass National Forest into account as you consider any bills that would affect my home. An overwhelming majority of Southeast Alaskans, whether they be Alaska Natives, fishermen, tourism operators, democrats or republicans, like the Tongass just the way it is. We don’t want any more land swaps or logging. Listen to us.
  • Susan Lamb
    commented 2018-02-02 10:51:51 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski

    Please support protecting our public lands to especially the Tongas Wildlife Refuge. .

    Susan Lamb
  • Lynn Wilbur
    commented 2018-02-02 10:41:26 -0900
    I see now that you are scrambling to assemble a list of goodies to your corporate friends, all in the good-‘ol murkowski tradition. Raping and pillaging the bottom of the ocean with your daddy’s trawl fleet wasn’t enough, now you have to go after our National Forests? And all while tRump trashes our constitution…wtf are you doing about that? Nothing? We will see your forced resignation.
  • Mary Soltis
    commented 2018-02-02 10:38:55 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski- please leave the Tongass Forest lands public, protect the way of life for those who live there, and preserve the clean water for generations to come.

    Why bring in roads, cut down old growth forest, pollute the salmon streams, and destroy subsistenence life, all for the sake of the almighty dollar, a few jobs, and the transient well being of greedy people? Please leave the Tongass alone. Don’t ever mess with Mother Nature. The long term damage is not worth the short term greed of man. I respectfully thank you for your service to Alaska and hope the only thing you kill is this legislation. Mary in Sitka
  • Joan McBeen
    commented 2018-02-02 09:49:51 -0900
    Dear Senator Murkowski,

    I am very concerned about the threat to the Tongass National Forest that your riders to the budget and sb1481 will have to our home by privatizing thousands of acres and endangering industries and individuals that depend on an intact ecosystem. I have lived in Southeast Alaska for 45 years and made my living commercial fishing and operating a fishing lodge. I now depend on an intact forest for my food and peace of mind. Tenakee residents have a long history of working to keep old growth forests healthy and these bills will have an extremely harmful effect on our inlet and way of living.

    Please stop these toxic bills.

    Joan McBeen

    PO Box 23

    Tenakee Springs, AK 99844
  • Randy and Janet Berlin
    commented 2018-02-02 09:41:33 -0900
    Dear Senator,

    I appreciate what you have done to help Alaskans and all Americans in the last year. I know you don’t make any decision in haste and you do an extreme amount of research with any bill up for a vote. I’m asking you to look very very hard at the Tongass. This is the most precious resource we have in the entire world. This bill threatens wildlife, salmon and loss of forests add to the global warming crisis. We can not continue to rape the land for greed. Don’t sell out. Please do not support privatization or land deals with our forest the Tongass. Thank you for your time,

    Janet Berlin

    Sitka Alaska

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