One of the most significant forest conservation policies in recent years, President Clinton's 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule has had a complicated history on the Tongass National Forest. In 2003, President Bush's Department of Agriculture, in response to a lawsuit brought by the State of Alaska and others, effected a temporary exemption for the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. This temporary exemption lasted until May 2011 when Federal District Court Judge John Sedwick vacated the exemption, as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Organized Village of Kake, The Boat Company, SEACC, and other conservation organizations.
Though logging in inventoried roadless areas on the Tongass was approved by the Tongass National Forest under the 2003 Tongass exemption, in recent years Tongass management has avoided logging and road building in roadless areas. For this reason, Judge Sedwick's 2011 ruling has had little impact on proposed timber sales. In addition, Judge Sedwick's Judgement on the case specifically clarified that the impact of the Roadless Rule on Tongass mining, renewable energy, and transportation projects will be minimal. The final challenge to the Roadless Rule on the Tongass and nationwide--a case filed by the State of Alaska--was dismissed in a March 2013 ruling by U.S. Richard Leon.
For more details on non-timber impacts of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass, please see this Myth vs. Fact Sheet.
There are 9.3 million acres of inventoried roadless areas on the Tongass, 2.3 million of which would otherwise be vulnerable to industrial logging activities. As a result of the implementation of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass, these 2.3 million acres will be protected from logging, preserving some of the most critical remaining old-growth forests on the Tongass for future generations and old-growth-dependent species, such as deer, bear, wolf, goshawk, and murrelets. In addition, the rule will save significant taxpayer money by preventing the construction of hundreds of miles of taxpayer-subsidized logging roads.