Keep The Tongass Roadless


Take Action to Protect the Tongass

The Tongass Needs Roadless Rule Protections

The national Roadless Rule was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2001 and was met with overwhelming public support.  It granted protections from development for over 50 million acres of roadless areas across the country, including 9.3 million acres of the Tongass. 

Alaska’s out-of-touch elected leadership, however, have opposed it from the start. Most recently, when President Donald Trump was elected, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy met with him privately on Air Force One in 2019 to talk about exempting Alaska from the Roadless Rule, according to The Washington Post. A few months later, the Trump administration’s U.S. Forest Service announced it was considering fully removing Roadless Rule protections from the Tongass.

Southeast Alaskans immediately sprang into action to protest this drastic change, which would make it easier to clearcut vast swaths of old-growth trees and build new logging roads, thus threatening essential salmon and wildlife habitat and Southeast’s fishing and tourism economy.

Southeast Alaskans made their wishes known loud, clear and en masse in public meetings, forums and comments: The Tongass needs Roadless Rule protections.

During the first “scoping” process, over 144,000 people submitted public comments, with over 90% in favor of keeping the existing Roadless Rule protections for the Tongass, including 98% of commenters from Alaska. After the DEIS was released, another quarter of a million people commented, with a staggering 96% opposed to the change and in favor of keeping the existing Roadless Rule protections. 

Locally in Southeast, more than 200 commercial fishermen signed a letter in support of keeping Roadless protections; six Tribal governments passed resolutions opposing exempting the Tongass from the rule; six local communities passed city council-level resolutions in support of keeping Roadless; and four local Fish and Game Advisory Committees passed resolutions supporting the rule. During public hearings, more than 200 people in Juneau turned out to testify in favor of keeping the Roadless Rule; and another 200 subsistence users in Southeast — those are people who hunt, fish and forage in the Tongass and rely on the forest to feed their families — testified with the large majority in support of keeping Roadless protections.

The overwhelming majority of Southeast Alaskans want the Roadless Rule left in place.

Alaska’s politicians are refusing to listen to their constituents, holding tight to a dying dream of reviving a declining timber industry while forsaking Southeast’s true economy: the tourism and fishing industries.

A common refrain from critics of the Roadless Rule is that it hinders needed development in the area. It doesn’t. Since 2001, every single one of the 57 requests from developers to be exempted from the rule for their needed projects in Alaska has been approved. Allowances have been made for mining, certain road building, personal tree cutting, interties, hydroelectric projects and geothermal leases. When politicians say it’s hindering development, it’s not true. 

In September 2020, the Forest Service announced that it had considered all the public comments and testimony and had made a decision: they recommended fully removing Roadless Rule protections for the Tongass.

Unbelievably, the Trump administration decided on Oct. 29, 2020, to ignore the overwhelming majority of Alaskans and remove national Roadless Rule protections from the Tongass.

SEACC was furious at this decision and will do everything in our power — including pursuing litigation — to keep national Roadless Rule protections in place on the Tongass National Forest.
In the words of our Executive Director Meredith Trainor, “This fight is not over! We are committed to taking any and all necessary steps, including litigation, to keep these national Roadless Rule protections in place on the Tongass National Forest in perpetuity.”

Video: Stand Tall For The Tongass

Filmed by Wild Confluence Media, in collaboration with SEACC and the Alaska Wilderness Society

↑ Click “play” to watch video ↑

Did You Know?

  • The Tongass is Earth’s largest remaining temperate rainforest, and the largest National Forest in the United States.
  • All five species of Pacific Salmon, as well as Steelhead and Trout, fill the ocean and streams and feed the forests.
  • Wild salmon fisheries provide more jobs to the region than any other private economic sector.
  • The Tongass is the ancestral lands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples, where customary and traditional hunting, gathering, arts and culture still thrive.

What can YOU do?

We’ll let you know about the next opportunity to speak up for the Tongass. It is always helpful to drop a line to your U.S. Senators and Representatives telling them that you live, work, and play in the Tongass and would like it to be managed for fish, wildlife, and fun; the American public should no longer be subsidizing old-growth clearcutting.